CA orders arrest of 8 cops tagged in 2008 Parañaque shootout
MANILA, Philippines — Finally, the wheels of justice may start to grind for the family of Alfonso de Vera, the vacationing seaman who was killed with his seven-year-old daughter during a fierce firefight between the authorities and a group of suspected robbers in Parañaque City in 2008.
The Court of Appeals has ordered the arrest of eight Parañaque policemen tagged in the deadly shootout with alleged members of the Waray-waray robbery group, which left 16 people dead, among them civilians such as De Vera and his young daughter Lia Allana.
The casualties in the hour-long gun battle, which also resulted in the sudden drop of robberies in Metro Manila, was the biggest in recent memory.
In its June 15 resolution, the appellate court said Parañaque Regional Trial Court Judge Jaime Guray committed grave abuse of discretion when he junked for lack of probable cause the resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which recommended the filing of a multiple murder case against the policemen.
In overturning the lower court’s decision, the appeals court said that “there is ample evidence and sufficient basis on record supporting a finding of probable cause.”
It described the judge’s decision as “a rush to judgment without deliberate evaluation of the evidence from both sides demanded by a full trial.”
“This is, at best, a conjecture without empirical basis,” the appeals court said of Guray’s order. “Needless to say, a full-blown trial is to be preferred to ferret out the truth.”
Ordered arrested were Chief Inspector Lawrence Cajipe, Chief Inspector Joel Mendoza, Inspector Gerardo Balacutan, Police Officers 3 Jolito Mamanao Jr. and Fernando Rey Gapuz, Police Officers 2 Eduardo Blanco and Edwin Santos, and PO1 Josil Rey Lucena.
“(Guray) gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the criminal case filed against the (policemen) for lack of probable cause on the ground that the evidence tends to show that they acted only as members of a blocking force during the shooting incident which led to the death of (the De Veras),” the court said in a 15-page ruling.
Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Edwin Sorongon agreed with the ruling written by Associate Justice Noel Tijam.
The case against the policemen stemmed from the complaint filed in the DOJ by De Vera’s wife Lilian, who claimed that the policemen were involved in the killing of her husband and daughter.
Philippine Daily Inquirer sources, however, said the father and daughter might have been killed by operatives of the Naval Intelligence and Security Force, whose involvement in the police operation was never explained by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In her complaint-affidavit, the widow said her loved ones were on board their Isuzu Crosswind (XEW 327) when the shootout took place on the night of Dec.5, 2008, inside the United Parañaque Subdivision 4 in Barangay Marcelo Green.
She said the victims were supposed to fetch her in Pasay City when the policemen fired at them repeatedly apparently on suspicion that the van was one of the robbers’ get-away vehicles.
When the shooting stopped, the bullet-riddled body of De Vera was found slumped near a parked passenger jeepney where he reportedly tried to take cover. His daughter’s body was found inside the vehicle, which had over 80 bullet holes.
Fourteen other people, including eight suspected robbers and a policeman, also died in the gunfight.
On Dec. 28, 2009, the DOJ recommended the filing of the criminal case against the policemen, but Guray ordered the dismissal of the case for lack of probable cause.
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