3 PDEA agents, 4 cops charged over ‘misencounter’
Three government antidrug agents were indicted for homicide and four police officers for direct assault over a “misencounter” in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, on Feb. 24 last year that killed three operatives.
In a resolution dated May 2 but announced on Thursday, a Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution panel found enough evidence to charge Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents Khee Maricar Rodas, Jeffrey Baguidudol and Jelou Santiniaman for the death of PCpl. Eric Garado.
PMaj. Sandie Caparroso, PLt. Honey Besas, PSMS. Melvin Merida and PCpl. Paul Christian Gandez were charged with direct assault for mauling four backup PDEA agents.
The DOJ panel dismissed the homicide complaints against PDEA agent Romeo Asuncion for the death of PCpl. Lauro De Guzman, and against PCpl. Alvin Borja for the death of PDEA agent Rankin Gano.
The prosecutors said the firearm that was used to kill De Guzman “was never identified” and none of the bullets or spent cartridges found in the area matched Asuncion’s firearm.
The prosecutors also said “there is no record showing that [Police Corporal] Borja was the only one who actually shot at agent Gano,” adding that the National Bureau of Investigation “failed to identify the fatal shot” that killed the PDEA agent.
According to the DOJ, the deadly misunderstanding resulted from a chance encounter between the police officers and PDEA agents who were conducting separate buy-bust operations along Commonwealth Avenue.
The car carrying PDEA agents and their informant overheated, forcing them to park at the McDonald’s Don Antonio parking lot. At the same time, the informant of the Quezon City Police District-District Special Operations Unit (QCPD-DSOU) chose the same location for their transaction.
Based on DOJ findings, Garado and his backup De Guzman were killed in the shootout when they rushed together with their informant toward the vehicle of the PDEA agents. Gano was killed shortly after.
The DOJ dismissed the other complaints and countercomplaints filed by both the PDEA and the QCPD for attempted homicide, falsification of official document and robbery, among others, due to insufficient evidence.
In a statement on Thursday, the Philippine National Police said it would defer to the court to determine and evaluate the merits of the case.
“The indictment of some PDEA agents and PNP personnel during the so-called Commonwealth misencounter will give an opportunity for the respondents to be given their day in court in the interest of due process,” it said.
PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon said they were still waiting to receive a copy of the DOJ resolution. —WITH A REPORT FROM DEXTER CABALZA
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