Spanish couple pushes case of slain son

Spanish couple pushes case of slain son

The parents of a Spanish man allegedly killed in 2020 during the deadly drug war of former President Rodrigo Duterte are determined to see justice served against the accused officers.

Alberto and Pilar Bello traveled to Manila despite a court hearing being canceled on June 17, a public holiday.

“They are committed to follow the case to the end and see justice is served,” said Abdiel Fajardo, their local counsel and a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.


Their son, Diego Lafuente Bello, was 32 when he was shot dead by police on Jan. 8, 2020, in the municipality of General Luna on Siargao Island. Bello was a surfer who had been living on the island since 2017, running a surf shop and restaurant-bar he had started.


In 2021, state prosecutors charged three police officers—former police chief Wise Vicente Panuelos, Staff Sgt. Ronel Pazo and Staff Sgt. Nido Cortes—with murder and planting evidence in Bello’s killing. They had remained fugitives for over six months before surrendering in 2023.

“Basically, they are here so that justice is served, and they are sure that justice will be served, but they also need the support of the Filipino government or the Filipinos in general,” Fajardo said.

READ: Marcos notes ‘abuses’ in Duterte drug war

At the hearings on a bail petition, prosecutors aim to show strong evidence for keeping the three jailed. “So far, we have presented only two [witnesses], we anticipate that we should be able to present at least 10 witnesses to show that the evidence of guilt is strong,” Fajardo said. The trial proper has not yet begun.

The parents questioned authorities’ failure to comply with a court order transferring the accused from police custody to jail during the proceedings.

Court order

On Sept. 6, 2023, the trial court issued a commitment order transferring the accused from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to Manila City Jail. However, it was later discovered that the order had not been complied with, despite a document confirming receipt of the prisoners bearing the supposed signature of the warden or a representative of Manila City Jail.


On Feb. 9, at the Philippine National Police’s request to maintain custody of the accused at the CIDG compound, the trial court issued another order denying the request and directed the immediate transfer of the accused to Manila City Jail.

“She wants to clarify that the Philippine police is not corrupt. [The accused] are corrupt,” Pilar Bello said through an interpreter.

In a message to the Inquirer, Manila City Jail confirmed that the accused are presently in the custody of Manila City Jail Male Dormitory (MCJMD).

READ: Deadly war on drugs, again

“They were brought to Bureau of Jail Management and Penology MCJMD on Feb. 29 by CIDG Crame,” Inspector Jayrex Bustinera told Inquirer via a text message.

The couple hopes to eventually meet President Marcos. “As the highest authority in the country, so that he is vigilant. Make sure that justice [and] that the law is followed,” Pilar said.

Diego’s mother said through an interpreter: “He was very conscious, and he knew very well that anyone who was involved in drugs would have problems, serious problems.” They cited an autopsy that showed no drugs in Diego’s system.

The Bellos see the case as important for the Philippines’ image.

“Also, for the image of the Philippines, so people in the rest of the world see that the image of the Philippines is changing,” Alberto Bello said.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Funding their quest for justice is a major challenge, the parents said. They created a website selling merchandise under Diego’s brand Mamon to finance their travels. “If there are still funds left, it will be transferred to the Commission on Human Rights,” Pilar said.

TAGS: Drug war, Duterte, spanish

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.