7 cops in death of 6 charged with murder
MANILA, Philippines — Seven police officers have been criminally indicted for conducting “fabricated” antidrug operations in February 2020 that resulted in the death of six persons in Bulacan province, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday.
Charged with six counts of murder and arbitrary detention on Aug. 25 were Police Staff Sergeants Benjie Enconado and Irwin Joy Yuson, Police Corporals Marlon Martus, Edmund Catubay Jr., Harvy Albino and Herbert Hernandez, and Pat. Rusco Virnar Madla.
However, their immediate superior, Police Maj. Leo dela Rosa, who then headed the intelligence and drug enforcement unit of the San Jose del Monte City police, was cleared, along with six other police officers, due to insufficiency of evidence.
The law enforcers were charged for the deaths of Chamberlain Domingo, Chadwin Santos, Edmar Aspirin, Richard Salgado, Erwin Mergal, and Jim Joshua Cordero. The case was among the “nanlaban” (fought back) incidents that marred President Duterte’s war on drugs.
In a statement, the DOJ said the victims, who did not know each other, were illegally held by the antinarcotics agents just because “they happened to pass by the area where a buy-bust operation took place.”
“The eyewitness account of a person, who was tasked to watch over the victims while they were being unlawfully detained inside the (police office), and photographs depicting the victims, all blindfolded and hand-tied, among others, supported the indictment of the police officers,” it added.
“The filing of the charges arose from three fabricated buy-bust operations conducted by the said police officers… against the victims, but in truth and in fact, no buy-bust operation was ever conducted against them,” the DOJ said.
The National Bureau of Investigation found that Dela Rosa and his men arrested the victims on the night of Feb. 13, 2020, before they were killed in supposed antidrug operations.Citing the NBI’s findings, state prosecutors said the victims were “unlawfully and forcibly taken” by the policemen in Towerville, Barangay Sto. Cristo, San Jose del Monte, then locked up without charges inside the police station.
News handpicked by our editors
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.