August 6, 2014 12:22pm
The Court of Appeals has cleared of murder charges 17 police officers linked to the 2008 Parañaque shootout with alleged robbers that left 16 people dead, including a 53-year-old vacationing seaman and his daughter.Apart from the father and daughter, who were caught in the crossfire, also killed in the shootout were three other civilians, 10 suspected robbers and a policeman.
In a 10-page ruling, the CA Seventh Division upheld a decision by Presiding Judge Jaime Guray of the Regional Trial Court Branch 260 in Parañaque dismissing the murder charges against members of the PNP Special Action Force after the prosecution failed to present strong evidence to show they conspired with the operatives of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) during the 2008 operation.
“A careful perusal of the testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses would show that the evidence against private respondents is so weak to merit a reversal or annulment of the assailed judgment,” the CA ruled.
“The testimonies are bereft of any convincing proof that private respondents or any of them was the one who shot and killed the victims,” it added.
The appeals court noted that witnesses Ronald Castillo and Hilario Indiana failed to identify the persons who shot and killed the victims.
Among those cleared were P/Supt. Jonathan Calixto, P/CInsp. Hermogenes Cabe, P/SInsp Abraham Abayari, P/Insp Erikson Roranes, P/Insp Ludivico Cordova, PO1 James Yodong, PO1 Allan Apil, PO1 Efren Angcuan, PO1 Lloyd Bulayungan, PO1 Nemesio Gano, PO3 Hagar Torres, PO3 Jericho Otaboy, PO3 Guilbert Lopez, PO3 Felix Base, PO3 Eugene Papatew, PO3 Policarpio Jose, Jr., PO1 Sherwin Maybanting.
Killed in the crossfire on Dec. 5, 2008 at the United Parañaque Subdivision IV, Paranaque City were vacationing seaman Alfonso de Vera and his seven-year-old daughter Lia. The policemen were engaged in a shootout with alleged members of the Waray-Waray robbery group.
The petition that the CA denied was filed by De Vera’s widow Lilian de Vera, who claimed Judge Guray committed grave abuse authority when he dismissed the charges against the 17 policemen.
On June 16, 2010, Judge Guray had already dismissed the two murder cases filed against eight HPG members in a separate order issued on June 16, 2010. The Court of Appeals, however. reversed his decision and ordered the arrest of eight Parañaque policemen in a June 15, 2012 resolution.
In its ruling, the CA said Judge Guray committed grave abuse of discretion after he junked a resolution of the Department of Justice recommending the filing of multiple murder charges against the eight policemen. Guray junked the DOJ resolution for lack of probable cause.
Ordered arrested at the time 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.
— RSJ/KBK, GMA News