9 cops charged in killing of Calbayog mayor, 3 others
Nine policemen have been charged with murder for the killing of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino, his two aides and a passerby last March.
The policemen, all members of the Philippine National Police Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group and led by their team leader Police Lt. Col. Harry Villar Sucayre, were also charged with frustrated murder since another aide of Aquino survived the ambush.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday said state prosecutors issued the indictment on Dec. 15. The charges against the nine policemen will be filed before the Calbayog City Regional Trial Court.
The rest of the policemen who were charged with four counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder were Police Maj. Shyrille Tan; Police Capt. Dino Goles; Police Lt. Julio Armeza Jr.,; Police Staff Sergeants Neil Cebu, Edsel Omega and Randy Merelos; Pat. Niño Salem; and Police Cpl. Julius Garcia.
The DOJ said the prosecution panel concluded that Aquino, his driver Dennis Abayon, police security escort Police Staff Sergeant Rodeo Sario and personal security aide Mansfield Labonite were ambushed along Labuyao Bridge, Calbayog City, on March 8, 2021.
Dismissed PNP complaints
They were reportedly on their way to attend the birthday party of the mayor’s son.
Labonite survived due to “timely rescue and medical attention,” said the DOJ.
Meanwhile, civilian Clint John Paul Yauder, who was driving by the area at the time of the ambush, was killed in the shooting.
The policemen claimed that Aquino’s security aides fired first, killing Police Capt. Joselito Tabada and Police Staff Sergeant Romeo Laoyon.
But the DOJ said the policemen’s “defenses of denial, alibi and self-defense … cannot be given weight in light of the positive assertions of the witnesses and the pieces of evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation.”
The DOJ dismissed the murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder complaints filed by the PNP against the mayor’s son, Ronald Mark Aquino and Police Cpl. Ramil Rosales.
The DOJ also dismissed the complaint filed by the PNP against the mayor’s son for grave threats.
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