5 charged for ‘septic tank’ slay case
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday filed murder charges against a former police colonel, two junior policemen and two other civilians for the slaying of a Filipino-Chinese businesswoman who disappeared in January and was found dead in a septic tank in an abandoned Laguna warehouse on Feb. 23.
Charged for conspiring to murder Lea Angeles-Ng were Supt. Rommel Miranda, PO1 Otelio Santos Jr., PO1 Jifford Signap, Reginel Regidor Santiago and Elmer Paiste.
The police had originally filed charges of kidnapping with ransom and homicide against the four of the suspects, including Santiago, who confessed to the crime and positively identified the other culprits.
But in a 14-page resolution dated May 24, the prosecution panel composed of Arlie Alilam-Ramos and Xerxes Garcia said while there is insufficient evidence to establish the commission of kidnapping for ransom, “there is, however, sufficient evidence that the crime of murder, qualified by taking advantage of superior strength, was committed by respondents Miranda, Santos, Signap and Santiago.”
Paiste, the security guard at the compound where the body was found, was included in the charge because the prosecutors found it “highly suspicious” that he did not notice the dumping of the body when his post was only about 20 meters away from the septic tank.
Ramos and Garcia’s recommendation for the upgrading of the charges to murder was approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.
In resolving the case, the prosecutors based their conclusions on evidence that included the extrajudicial confession of Santiago, who detailed his participation and the complicity of his cohorts in killing Ng. He pointed to Miranda as the one who masterminded the slaying, with the help of Signap and Santos.
Failed to return
Ng’s husband, Tommy, reported his wife missing on Jan. 23, after she failed to return home and could no longer be contacted since she left their house in Quezon City three days earlier.
The Philippine National Police’s anti-kidnapping group (AKG) found Ng’s car abandoned at the parking lot of a supermarket in Carmona, Cavite. The police later obtained footage from a closed-circuit television camera showing two men, one of them Santiago, parking and leaving the vehicle on Jan. 20.
From Feb. 20 to 22, Tommy said he received calls and text messages from an unidentified person demanding a P10 million ransom.
The police failed to establish the identity of the person who tried to collect ransom. That and the fact that there was no proof that Ng was abducted were the main reasons why the kidnapping with ransom and homicide charges were dropped.
Santiago was arrested by AKG operatives in an off-track betting station in San Pedro City, Laguna, on Feb. 23. He confessed to the crime and tagged the other suspects.
Santiago admitted that he, along with Signap and Santos, met Miranda at a restaurant parking area at Corinthian Place in Quezon City on Jan. 19. Miranda was then aboard Ng’s Toyota Land Cruiser.
Santiago said that when he got in the car, he saw Ng already unconscious and slumped in the driver’s seat while Miranda was on the passenger’s side. Santiago said he and Signap transferred the body to the back seat while they drove the vehicle to an Pedro.
Along Circumferential Road 5 (President Carlos P. Garcia Avenue) in Taguig City, Santiago said Miranda got off and told them, “Take care of that.”
Dumped in San Pedro
Santiago said that at the abandoned Magnum Compound in San Pedro, Laguna, he, Santos and Signap dumped the body in a septic tank and sealed it with cement. From there, they proceeded to Walter Mart in Carmona where they disposed of Ng’s car.
In their affidavits, Santos and Signap denied knowing Miranda and said they had nothing to do with the murder.
They said they saw Santiago grabbing and dragging Ng into her car at the Corinthian Place. They claimed they just accompanied Santiago and Miranda in the journey to San Pedro and then left immediately after arriving at the Magnum Compound.
Miranda, on the other hand, admitted meeting Ng at the Corinthian Place but said they just spoke about business matters, noting that the businesswoman even asked her for her help in the registration of her trucks in Biñan, Laguna, and for the collection of some debts to a certain Mr. De Guia.
Miranda said he left Ng alive with Santiago, who was to accompany Ng in her car.
The prosecutors found Miranda’s defense “weak and evidentiary in nature.”
As for Signap and Santos, the prosecutors faulted the two policemen for keeping the incident secret to themselves.
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