PNP: No torture of lawyer’s aide
CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna — The Philippine National Police insisted that Richard Santillan, an aide of former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong who was slain in a shootout with policemen in Rizal province last week, was involved in illegal drug trade.
Police said Santillan’s vehicle, a Toyota Fortuner, which Chong claimed as his, was seen twice, on Nov. 24 and Dec. 4, in Cainta town.
Members of the crime gang “Highway Boys” allegedly used the car to “distribute” drugs, a police official said on Tuesday.
Supt. Serafin Petalio, intelligence chief of the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) police, said this was the reason they were tailing the vehicle until Rizal policemen saw it again on Dec. 10.
He said the car’s registration, under the name of Chong’s sister, Jo Ann, had expired, giving authorities another reason to flag it down at Barangay San Andres.
Chong denied the police’s claims, describing Santillan as a trusted aide for 11 years.
The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on Monday autopsied Santillan’s remains and found wounds “that were not consistent with an encounter,” said Dr. Erwin Erfe, PAO forensic expert, as posted on Chong’s social media page on Tuesday.
The PAO also said Santillan bore signs of “torture,” like trauma from a blunt object and wounds inflicted by a pointed object.
But Petalio, at a press conference here on Tuesday, said Santillan drove past the police, prompting a chase.
He said it was Santillan’s companion, Gessamyn Casing, who was at the front passenger’s seat, who first fired at policemen and triggered the shootout.
Supt. Pierre Paul Carpio of the Rizal crime laboratory said Santillan had at least 19 bullet wounds in the head, chest, abdomen, hands and feet. Cuts, as pointed out by the PAO, resulted from the bullet grazing the skin.
Casing, police said, had two bullet wounds.
Police said Casing was a cousin of one of the leaders of Highway Boys.
Petalio said Santillan and Casing were traveling with Barry, said to be the financier of the group, and another suspect, but they escaped.
Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, regional police director, dismissed Chong’s claims that Santillan was tortured.
“Let us not drag the dead into one’s political quest or the PNP for one’s media mileage,” Carranza said of Chong, who is seeking a Senate seat.
Carranza also dismissed Chong’s claims that he was the target of the supposed assassination after the lawyer testified in the Senate and House inquiries into the 2016 election fraud case. —MARICAR CINCO
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