HPG cops deny murdering, torturing motorist they apprehended
The two Highway Patrol Group (HPG) personnel accused of killing a motorcycle rider they had accosted denied allegations that they murdered, tortured and robbed the victim.
In their separate counter-affidavits with the Department of Justice on Friday, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Jeremiah De Villa and PO2 Jonjie Manon-og said motorcycle rider John Dela Riarte twice attempted to snatch their firearms, first, when De Villa approached him when he was allegedly kicking and smashing a car using his crash helmet and, second, when he was inside the patrol vehicle while on their way to Camp Crame.
Dela Riarte was arrested last July 29 by the two HPG members after he figured in a road altercation with another motorist, Eric Fajardo, in Makati City.
De Villa said that when Dela Riarte tried to snatch his firearm, the latter told him he will shoot the man inside the vehicle.
He said MMDA constables Bayani B. Batac III and Jeslie M. Manlangit tried to subdue Dela Riarte but he was tall and strong, thus he hit him in the stomach and the side of his abdomen.
De Villa said he told Dela Riarte of his rights and then he was handcuffed. The victim, however, continued cursing and spewing invectives at them.
De Villa said they decided to take Dela Riarte to Camp Crame. Manon-og rode with Dela Riarte at the backseat while he drove the patrol car.
Manon-og, in his counter-affidavit, said that while on their way to Camp Crame, Dela Riarte head butted him and tried to grab his service firearm.
“For a while he [Dela Riarte] was able to hold it and I kept holding/grappling with him and I shouted at PO3 Jeremiah De Villa, ‘hepe inagaw n’ya baril ko (chief, he’s trying to grab my gun),’” Manon-og said.
De Villa, on the other hand, tried to stop Dela Riarte by shouting at him.
“At that time, the only thing foremost in my mind was to maim and disable John B. Dela Riarte so that he could not be a danger to PO2 Jonjie Manon-og and to the public or other motorists as we were [on] EDSA and the cars were slow moving as it was traffic (sic).”
“In a split second, instinctively, I got my gun and while shouting ‘tumigil ka, tumigil ka (stop it, stop it)! turning half sideways to my right, I pulled the trigger of my gun to disable John B. Dela Riarte,” De Villa said, adding that “the incident happened so fast that I could feel panic rising to my throat when I realized he was bleeding.”
Because of the traffic, he said he could not drive fast enough to the hospital, so he asked Manon-og to put pressure on Dela Riarte’s wounds.
He said Dela Riarte was alive when they arrived at the Philippine National Police Hospital.
“Afterwards, we were informed that John B. Dela Riarte passed away,” both De Villa and Manon-og said in their counter-affidavits.
The two appealed to the DOJ to dismiss the case against them, saying “any and all the acts (we) have done were in furtherance of the performance of (our) duties.”
The NBI, in its letter complaint submitted to the DOJ said examination showed that the cause of death of the victim was multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, abdomen and right thigh. The NBI findings are also consistent with the autopsy report of the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) forensic laboratory.
“The NBI respectfully rested and hereby transmits the entire case folder for proper incorporation to the case earlier filed [by PAO] to aid the resolution and eventual prosecution of the case,” the NBI stated in the letter complaint signed by NBI Director Atty. Dante A. Gierran. IDL/rga
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