‘Tokhang’ survivor asks court to reinvestigate assault rap
The lone survivor of an “Oplan Tokhang” operation in Payatas filed an omnibus motion before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court on Thursday asking the court to order a reinvestigation of the direct assault charge filed against him by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).
Efren Morillo, a vegetable vendor from Montalban, Rizal province, was represented by the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) in asking the QC court to order the City Prosecutor’s Office to reinvestigate the claims that he shot at the four policemen from Batasan police station who were allegedly doing an antidrug operation in Aug. 21, 2016.
Police reports said Morillo, along with Marcelo Daa, Raffy Gabo, Anthony Comendo and Jessie Cule, fired at Senior Insp. Emil Garcia, PO3 Allan Formilleza and Police Officers James Aggarao and Melchor Navisaga while they were conducting Tokhang, or knock-and-plead, operation in Daa’s home in Area B, Group 9.
However, Morillo and several other witnesses claimed that the four men, mostly garbage scavengers, were killed execution-style by the plainclothes policemen.
Lawyer Gil Anthony Aquino, legal counsel from CenterLaw, said the direct assault charge against Morillo had no grounds since no shots were exchanged between the two parties.
“From the very start, the case against Morillo had no probable cause,” he said. Since his arraignment in November, when he pleaded not guilty, the case has not moved forward.
The motion also asked the court to order the police to produce the documents related to the operation, including photographs taken by the QCPD of the crime scene. It also prayed for the production of certified true copies of police reports of all Tokhang operations of the Batasan police since the beginning of the drug war on July 1, 2016 to its temporary termination on Jan. 30.
“We believe the court needs to see these documents to see that there is a consistency in the stories of the policemen, and that this is being repeated over and over again in all of its operations,” Aquino said.
He noted that in their Supreme Court petition for a writ of amparo, the Philippine National Police had said that all Tokhang operations “are being investigated.”
Morillo’s camp also requested for the results of the investigation and copies of any evidence. Aquino said the CenterLaw has not seen any copies of the ballistic tests related to the case.
He noted that the autopsy results “(belie) the story of the police,” as they showed that the gunshot wounds of the victims revealed that they were fired downwards, something that would not be possible if a shootout has indeed taken place.
The lawyer also stressed that Morillo was not able to air his defense, nor issue a sworn statement, during the inquest proceedings for the charges.
“All the police presented (during the inquest proceedings) was self-serving evidence,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to really have the case against Morillo dismissed.”
In the first case challenging the drug war waged by the Duterte administration, the Court of Appeals issued in February a permanent protection order for Morillo and the families of Daa, Gabo, Comendo and Cule./rga
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