Ombudsman affirms junking of murder raps vs Caloocan cops in drug war ops
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has affirmed a previous resolution that junked murder and robbery charges against Caloocan City police officers who conducted an anti-drug operation in 2016, which led to the death of a father and his son.
According to the resolution released by the Ombudsman on Monday, its previous resolution stands as no new evidence or circumstance was presented by both the complainant and the respondents, which would alter the previous resolution.
The murder and robbery charges, which stemmed from the deaths of Luis Bonifacio and his 19-year-old son Gabriel Louis during a September 2016 drug war operation, were first filed in March 2017. In 2020, the Ombudsman released a resolution which stated junked the murder and robbery charges, while keeping some of the complaints.
After the murder complaints were dropped, the complainant, who is a relative of the victims, filed a motion for reconsideration reiterating her previous stand.
“[…] A careful examination of the said motion would show that it miserably failed to specify in what aspect of the law or the facts that this Office has erred in coming up with the assailed Joint Resolution,” the resolution, approved by Deputy Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices Cyril Ramos, said.
“A re-examination of the records likewise shows that the arguments forwarded by complainant-movant are essentially the same arguments, which were already passed upon and considered during the preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication of this case,” it added.
In the latest resolution, the Office also maintained that some of the Caloocan police officers should be held liable for grave misconduct for supposedly responding to a “call of duty”.
In the previous resolution, the Ombudsman dropped the murder and robbery charges against the following police officers and one of the informants:
- P/Lt. Col. Ali Jose Duterte
- P/Maj. Timothy Aniway Jr.
- P/Cpt. Jonathan Victor Olveña
- P/SMSgt. Joel Saludes
- P/ MSgt. Virgilio Cervantes
- P/SSgt. Reymel Villanueva
- P/SSgt. John Cezar Mendoza
- P/SSgt. Harold Jake Dela Rosa
- P/SSgt. Richard Ramos
- P/Cpl. Arnel De Guzman
- P/Cpl. Johnston Alacre
- P/Cpl. Artemio Saguros
- P/Cpl. Orlando Lucky Boy De Leon
- Pat. Carlo Miguel Daniel
- Pat. Randy Chua
- Pat. Ruby Dumaguing
- P/Maj. Avelino Andaya
- P/SSgt. Edgar Manapat
- Pat. Aldrin Matthew Matining
- Harlem Ramos
Instead of murder, complaints based on Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code or homicide were filed against Cervantes, De Guzman, Alacre, and Saguros. All four were also found guilty of grave misconduct and were given the penalty of one year suspension without pay.
Meanwhile, Andaya, Manapat, Villanueva, Dela Rosa, and Matining were found guilty for simple neglect of duty, and were suspended for one month without pay.
According to the Ombudsman, the admission of respondents Cervantes, Villanueva, De Guzman, Alacre, Saguros, and Dela Rosa that they fired on the victims — along with the evidence showing multiple gunshot wounds on the victims’ body — are enough basis to penalize them for grave misconduct.
“[…] it clearly appears that their action was not merely a call of self-preservation, but a determined effort to kill the latter. By these circumstances alone, it is enough basis to hold them liable for Grave Misconduct since a killing of a person without justifiable reason is a manifestation of a willful intent to violate the law or a disregard of established rule,” the Ombudsman noted.
“The law does not clothe police officers with the authority to arbitrarily judge the necessity to kill,” it added.
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