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Ombudsman junks murder charges vs 16 Batasan cops in drug killings

The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the murder charges against 16 Batasan policemen involved in the killing of five men, including a minor, in a 2016 buy-bust operation in Payatas, Quezon City.

The case was filed by Katrina Polo, Mariza Hamoy and Marlyn Bordeos, in what may be among the first charges leveled against police operatives under President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

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Exonerated by the Ombudsman were SPO3 Carlo Sabella; SPO2s Marvin Merida, Rhodolf Makie and Ralph Pinero; SPO1 Ronnie Banggat; PO3s Dennis Pal, Richard Timon, Edilberto Vargas and Nonilon Laberon; and PO2s Michael Maderable, Amirudin Ibrahim, Alberto Pombo, Andy Adlawan, Charles Molinos, Herbert Angoluan and Wilson Escuro.

‘Do not deserve credence’

In a resolution dated July 12 but which the family learned about only this week, graft prosecution officer Jorge Manaois Jr. ruled that the testimonies of complainants Hamoy and Bordeos “do not deserve credence,” as they were not present during the police operation that killed their loved ones.

The third complainant, Polo, had meanwhile filed an affidavit of desistance a month before the Ombudsman resolution, saying she was not present during the incident.  She also claimed that the Commission on Human Rights and the media had “forced” her to lie about the operation.

Hamoy and Bordeos’ affidavits were hinged on Polo’s earlier account, which said the five men were at their house that day to celebrate her husband Cherwen’s birthday, and that instead of a gunfight, the men were arbitrarily killed by the police operatives of Station 6.

While the Ombudsman resolution made no mention of Polo’s retraction, it dismissed Hamoy and Bordeos’ claims as mere hearsay, saying they had failed to discharge burden of proof.

Drug sting

Hamoy’s 17-year-old son, Darwin, and Bordeos’ nephew, William, were among those killed in the Aug. 15, 2016 drug sting conducted by the at the Polos’ house in Barangay Payatas B.

Also gunned down were Cherwen , Sherwin Ternal and a certain “Rambo.”

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A sixth man, Harold Arevalo, survived by jumping from the second floor window and playing dead.

The police claimed that the five men had engaged them in a gun battle after being cornered.  But Polo, the sole eyewitness in the incident, claimed in her initial affidavit that Cherwen, William Bordeos, Arevalo and Rambo were sleeping on the second floor of their home, while Hamoy and Ternal were on the ground floor, when the police started shooting.

The Ombudsman resolution noted that unlike the other complainants, Arevalo did not file charges against the police, and that it was the police who had charged Arevalo with direct assault before the Quezon City regional trial court, where he had earlier testified that no drug transaction took place.

The Ombudsman argued that the charges against Arevalo strengthened the police claims about a gunfight.

It was not clear, however, if the Ombudsman knew that in January this year, the case against Arevalo was dismissed after the prosecution failed to prove that he had shot it out with the police.

Hamoy’s daughter, Doris, told the Inquirer that they knew about the Ombudsman resolution only when it was delivered via post to their house on Tuesday.

“We felt sad and hopeless because we’ve been waiting all this time, only to learn that the case had been dismissed.  But we’ll explore other options with the help of our lawyer. We won’t back down,” Doris said, adding that the family also sought the assistance of the CHR to file a motion for reconsideration.
On July 28, Hamoy’s husband Danilo was arrested by the Batasan police with four other men in a “video karera” shop at Barangay Payatas, Quezon City. Police claimed Hamoy had yielded two sachets of “shabu” (crystal meth).
Pinero, Pal, Timon, Maderable, Banggat and Molinos—all anti-drug operatives of Station 6 in Batasan, Quezon City—had once been described in a Pulitzer-winning Reuters report as members of the “Davao Boys” a supposedly  handpicked group of deadly operatives from Mr. Duterte’s hometown in Mindanao.
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