Ex-Rodriguez, Rizal police chief, 3 other cops charged over lawyer’s slay
SAN PEDRO CITY – A ranking police officer and three other policemen were charged Tuesday over the murder of a lawyer and another person in Rodriguez, Rizal that, if proven right, was construed as an extrajudicial killing by cops posing as gunmen.
Murder charges were filed at the Department of Justice against Lt. Col. Melchor Agusin, who was the police chief of Rodriguez at the time of the killing of lawyer Adilberto Golla Jr. on May 17.
Agusin, who had since been reassigned to Crame’s Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit, declined to comment on his alleged involvement.
“I’m sorry I can’t comment on that,” Agusin said in a phone interview Tuesday.
The order to kill Golla, a litigation lawyer who also handled property disputes in Rizal, allegedly came from Agusin, based on the extra-judicial confession of one of the alleged gunmen, Senior Master Sgt. Michael Eralino.
Eralino, along with co-respondent Staff Sgt. Alberto Umali, were arrested by the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on July 6. They were arrested separately in their own homes in Taytay and in Rodriguez, respectively, based on search warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
A police source privy to the investigation said Umali was allowed to post bail since what the authorities found in his possession were just the ammunitions.
As of now, only Eralino, from whom investigators recovered the ski masks and jackets allegedly worn by Golla’s attackers, was in custody.
Another respondent, Patrolman Benito Julian Jr., was at large.
“As to the motive or why (Agusin would have wanted Golla dead) remained unclear. Eralino claimed they were just following orders,” said Calabarzon police spokesperson Lt. Col. Chitadel Gaoiran.
“Still, it was an illegal order,” she added.
The source, in a separate interview, said “Eralino in his confession said they were made to believe that Golla was (an illegal) personality that had be to be ‘operated.’”
The Inquirer in May had interviewed Agusin, who said that they were investigating the ambush of Golla, who was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen right outside his subdivision at Eastwood Greenview.
Considered a high profile case taken over by the regional headquarters, investigators followed the gunmen’s trail by collecting security camera footage and were surprised that they were led into a police housing project where Eralino lived.
Calabarzon police director Brigadier Gen. Edward Carranza said he had immediately ordered the policemen relieved.
On June 4, Conrado Esteban, who turned out to be the Rodriguez policemen’s “striker (a civilian who does chores for the cops or at times acts as an asset), turned up dead along C6 road in San Mateo, Rizal.
Police found an M16 rifle from Esteban’s recovered belongings. Carranza said a crossmatching of the weapon and the bullets showed the rifle was the same one used in Golla’s murder.
“(Esteban) was their own striker. They even tried to mislead (the Golla investigation) by making it look like Conrado killed him (Golla),” the source added.
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