Suspect in QC barangay chair’s slay cries torture
One of the suspects in the killing of a Quezon City barangay chair has claimed that he was tortured into owning up to the crime, prompting the judge to order his police custodians to bring him to a hospital for a medical checkup.
During a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Rosanna Fe Romero-Maglaya of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 88 told the head of the Quezon City Police District’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) to have Teofilo Formanes checked at Quirino Memorial Medical Center within 24 hours.
The results of the medical examination would “determine whether he [was physically] fit to be under detention,” Maglaya said.
The 48-year-old Formanes was arrested on Feb. 1, or two days after Barangay Bagong Silangan chair Crisell “Beng” Beltran and her driver, Melchor Salita, were shot dead by four men on motorcycles.
The QCPD’s special investigation task group linked Formanes to the killing, along with Ruel Juab and his brothers, Orlando and Joppy.
Beltran was running for representative of Quezon City’s second district under the PDP-Laban.
In Tuesday’s hearing, Daniel Villanueva, Formanes’ lawyer, told the judge that his client was having difficulty breathing because his captors beat him up to make him confess to the killing.
“Mr. Formanes had several bruises and contusions and complained of difficulty of breathing that was why we were afraid he might also [be suffering from] internal injuries or bleeding… I was told he was tortured and beaten by Quezon City police officers to compel him to confess to the killing of Crisell Beltran,” Villanueva said.
He later told the Inquirer in an interview that Formanes had “wounds and beating marks on his hands, chest and different parts of the body.”
Villanueva also denied that Formanes had executed an affidavit admitting to the killing.
“He was beaten up to make him confess. That is why we asked the court to compel the respondents to provide us a copy of the extrajudicial confession. The public respondents and the police officials, however, were not able to present it,” he said.
Villanueva also stressed that even if there was indeed such a confession, it would be considered illegal because it was done without a lawyer present.
“Perhaps, there was extreme pressure from various parties for the Philippine National Police to solve the alleged murder. Maybe someone escaped and they could not arrest the suspect so they took my client,” Villanueva added.
Director Guillermo Eleazar, National Capital Region Police Office chief, however, played down the allegations as the usual defense of suspects.
“The cases we referred were upheld by the prosecution’s office and submitted to court. As for [the allegation of] torture, they can file separate cases and prove [it] in court. That’s a normal defense. Some even allege planting of evidence. They can allege and file cases. Everyone is free to file a case. This is why policemen face a lot of cases,” he said.
Tuesday’s hearing was in connection with the civil case filed on Feb. 6 by Formanes’ wife, Estelita, against Eleazar and QCPD director, Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel Jr.
That same day, the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office charged Formanes and the Ruab brothers with two counts of murder. The case, however, has yet to be raffled off.
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