Former soldier convicted in senior officer’s killing in Cebu
CEBU CITY – A former soldier who killed his senior officer inside Camp Lapu-Lapu here six years ago was convicted by the trial court Monday.
Jesusito Bayang was found guilty of homicide and was meted the penalty of imprisonment from six to 12 years.
Judge Estela Alma Singco of the Regional Trial Court Branch 11 also ordered Bayang to pay the victim’s family P38,405 in actual damages, P75,000 in civil indemnity, P50,000 in moral damages, and P20,000 in attorney’s fees and other litigation expenses.
Bayang was accompanied by his lawyer Rameses Villagonzalo when the verdict was read in open court past 8 a.m. yesterday.
Villagonzalo, in an interview, said they would appeal the verdict before a higher court.
“We’re actually expecting an acquittal. But that’s the decision of the court. We respect it although we will be filing an appeal before the Court of Appeals,” he said.
Bayang, now 38 years old, was unhappy with the court’s ruling but said he will try to move on.
“Unsaon na-disgrasya man gyud. Dawaton na lang nako. (What I else can I do? The incident had happened. I just have to accept its consequences),” he told the Inquirer.
Bayang, who has two children aged 10 and 8, has been working as a farmer in his hometown in Surigao del Norte since being expelled from the military in 2010.
“Mo-uli lang usa ko sa amo. (I’ll return home from here),” said Bayang who is out on bail from the time the charges against him was filed in court.
Bayang admitted to shooting to death his senior official, Staff Sgt. Romeo Mendez, whom he said bullied him for five years.
But the accused had argued that he acted in self-defense when he sensed that Mendez was about to kill him.
Mendez was the supply sergeant of the 7th Finance Service Unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Central Command headquarters in Cebu City, while Bayang served as driver, mess sergeant, and cook.
On Sept 4, 2009, at around 5 a.m., Bayang said he was asleep in his quarters when Mendez woke him up by pulling his legs, and compelled him to clean the surroundings.
Bayang said he got a broom to obey Mendez’s order, but he decided to return to the room since it was still dark outside and he could hardly see the area to be cleaned.
Cleaning the surroundings of the military headquarters was scheduled at 6 a.m.
Bayang said he told Mendez to treat them properly since they are no longer trainees but enlisted personnel of the AFP.
From there, he said Mendez went to a locker, and although he didn’t see any firearm, he heard the cocking of a gun.
Afraid of what might happen to him, Bayang got his firearm.
He said he proceeded to the mess hall to drink coffee but Mendez, who was in the place, allegedly confronted him. As Bayang attempted to leave, he said Mendez banged the table.
Bayang said he then immediately got his gun and shot Mendez five times. The victim died on the spot, while Bayang immediately surrendered to the military police.
In her ruling, Judge Singco said the defense failed to prove that Mendez was armed when the confrontation took place.
“Aside from the alleged cocking sound of a gun that the accused heard, it was not shown that the victim was actually armed. The belief on the part of the accused that victim intended to harm him existed only in his imagination,” she said.
While Bayang claimed to be bullied by Mendez for several years, Singco said the defense did not present any witness to prove the accusation.
“In any event, such does not in itself establish the legal right of accused to kill the victim, otherwise retaliation and not self-defense is committed,” the judge said.
Singco said that the number of wounds sustained by the victim negates claims of self-defense.
“The number of wounds, five in all, indicates that the act of the accused was no longer in self-defense but a determined effort to kill the victim,” she said.
Bayang was originally charged with murder but the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office downgraded it to homicide based on the evidence submitted to them. Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Inquirer Visayas/CDG
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