DOJ clears Ex-NBI chief Gatdula of ambush charges
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice has cleared former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula of involvement in the foiled ambush of NBI Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda in 2012.
In a resolution, the DOJ said there is not enough proof to prosecute Gatdula of two counts of frustrated murder.
Esmeralda had linked the attempt to his life to the NBI’s move to include Gatdula in those being investigated for possible kidnapping and extortion of P6-million from Japanese national Noriyo Ohara in 2011. Esmeralda is part of those who made the recommendation.
“There is no showing that he had performed any overt act in pursuance or in furtherance of the conspiracy,” the DOJ resolution stated.
The DOJ also cleared a certain Gino Eustaquio, driver of businessman Tyrone Ong.
Meanwhile, Ong, together with Ronnie Ong, Perfecto Villanueva, alleged gunman Teodoro Abendano, Gerry Farillon, Jose Maglalang, supposed lookouts Jun and Alvin Monticlaros, Ramoso B. Ramos, Ricky Dacillo and Alfredo B. Compoc.
Ong, who is currently detained in Camp Crame for graft and malversation charges for the fictitious repair and maintenance of V-150 armored vehicles in 2007, allegedly paid P200,000 to kill Esmeralda.
The case was downgraded from frustrated murder to attempted murder because “there is no evidence to show that the injuries inflicted upon the complainants were fatal or would have resulted in their deaths.”
“It is settled that when nothing in the evidence shows that the wound would be fatal without medical intervention, the doubt created by the lack of evidence should be resolved in favor of the person charged. Thus, the [DOJ] panel [of investigators] ruled that the crime committed is merely attempted and not frustrated murder,” the resolution stated.
The resolution added that the confessions of Abendano, Villanueva, Ramos, Aljun, Alvin, Maglalang and Compoc “constitute direct proof that they committed the crime.”
“That conspiracy being present, each of them is equally liable for the crime committed; that their statements also point to the participation of Ronnie and Tyrone Ong, Dacillo and Farillon in the conspiracy,” the resolution stated.
Abendano, Villanueva, Ramos, Aljun and Alvin Monticlaros, Maglalang and Compoc, in separate statements identified Ronnie Ong as the one who organized the group and led the planning of the crime. Abendano said Dacillo is the driver of the motorcycle in the shooting of Esmeralda and his brother while Tyrone Ong allegedly allotted P600,000 budget for the ambush.
The Monticlaros said Esmeralda was ambushed due to a land feud.
Eustaquio was also cleared by the DOJ saying that even if he handed the money to Villanueva for the purchase of firearms, “there is no evidence that respondent Eustaquio was even aware what the money was for.”
Esmeralda and his brother were ambushed in February by two men riding a motorcycle while travelling in a four-vehicle convoy along Apacible Street, Paco, Manila. Esmeralda sustained minor injuries while his brother was hit by a bullet on the right shoulder.