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VICTIM’S TESTIMONY ‘CREDIBLE’

NBI files frustrated murder charges vs Quezon cops over ‘salvage’ try

/ 07:28 AM December 01, 2018

Roger Herrero —EZRA ACAYAN

The National Bureau of Investigation has filed in the Office of the Ombudsman a frustrated murder complaint against four policemen from Quezon province who allegedly tried to “salvage” a suspected thief who was left for dead with a gunshot wound in the head earlier this month.

Named respondents in the complaint by the NBI Lucena City District Office were SPO4 Wilson Villegas, SPO3 Noel Malabayabas, SPO2 Ryan Nobo and PO2 Jhaymar Espedido, as well as their alleged cohort, Franklin Pareja, also known as Aga.

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A picture of the victim, pedicab driver Roger Herrero Jr., which was posted on Facebook by photographer Ezra Acayan, drew widespread sympathy from netizens and condemnation of the police.

Aside from frustrated murder charges, the NBI also sought administrative sanctions for grave misconduct and grave irregularity against the four policemen, as well as for gross neglect of duty against the officer’s superior, Agdangan Municipal Police Office chief Insp. Wilson Mansion.

 

Shattered jaw

The NBI complaint filed on Thursday cited the “credible” testimony of Herrero, who was shot on Nov. 1 on the right side of his face, the bullet shattering his jaw.

The policemen said Herrero engaged them in a gunfight, but several residents in a forested area in Atimonan town where he was allegedly brought by the officers disputed their claim that there was a gunfight.

“Absent any evidence showing any reason or motive for complainant and witnesses to perjure, the logical conclusion is that no such improper motive exists, and their testimonies are thus worthy of full faith and credit,” read the complaint signed by Head Agent Dominador Villanueva III.

Herrero knew that his assailants were local policemen, but he could only identify one of them as “Spidido.”

Request for photos denied

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The NBI said the Philippine National Police in Quezon denied its request for pictures to help the victim identify his assailants.

Investigators, however, “plucked” the policemen’s names from the robbery, illegal firearms possession and frustrated murder complaint they had filed against Herrero. The officers had accused him of taking part in a “holdup” and of trying to escape.

Herrero claimed his friend Aga lured him into a sparsely populated area in Agdangan town, where the policemen ordered him to lay flat on his belly, handcuffed him and took him aboard a car.

The policemen supposedly asked him about his participation in illegal activities, especially thievery. Told that Aga had admitted to committing the crime, he said he thought it was best to admit that he sold some of the items stolen by his friend.

He said he was then taken deep into a forest in the neighboring town of Atimonan, where he was shot in the head at close range. He later regained consciousness and managed to walk toward a road, where he was rescued.

‘Please, don’t sir’

Herrero’s picture on photographer Ezra Acayan’s Facebook page on Nov. 15 showed his head and right cheek wrapped in bandage.

Acayan, an award-winning lensman who has been documenting victims of President Duterte’s war on drugs, said he had stumbled upon Herrero’s story after learning about recent killings in Quezon province.

“Please, don’t sir, have pity on me, I have four children, all still very young,” Acayan quoted Herrero as saying to the officers as the gun was aimed at his face.

“Start praying!” Herrero recalled hearing one of the policemen saying moments before he was shot. Then he slumped to the ground.

Acayan appealed for financial help for Herrero’s surgery to put a titanium plate on his jaw. The plate costs P215,000.

On Nov. 16, less than 24 hours after he posted Herrero’s picture, he was able to raise P300,000.

“You people are amazing. Thank you so much for the generosity,” Acayan said to the donors.

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