Arrest warrants issued for Coast Guard men in Balintang shooting

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2014 02:51 PM | Updated as of Apr 17 2014 06:23 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officers charged for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman off the Balintang Channel are now facing arrest on obstruction of justice charges.

The Cagayan Valley Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Sta. Ana Branch 011 has issued the warrants for the arrest of Coast Guard Commanding Officer Arnold Dela Cruz and Seaman 1st class Mhelvin Bendo.

Both have been charged for the preparation and submission of a falsified Monthly Gunner Report on the incident.

Dela Cruz, Bendo, along with Seamen 1st Class Edrando Aguila, Andy Gibb Golfo, Sunny Masangcay, Henry Solomon, Seaman 2nd Class Nicky Aurello, and Petty Officer Richard Corpuz were charged with homicide for the shooting of 65-year old Hong Shi Cheng on May 9, 2013.

The PCG men, on board MCS-3001, a patrol boat owned by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), fired at Taiwanese shipping vessel Guang Da Xing No. 28.

Dela Cruz and Bendo were separately charged with obstruction of justice.

In its complaint which was affirmed by the DOJ, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) accused Dela Cruz and Bendo of submitting two monthly gunnery reports with different results.

The first report indicated that 36 rounds of ammunition were fired by the PCG men; the second report indicated the "accurate" data of 108 rounds.

"We find that there is probable cause to charge respondents Bendo and Dela Cruz for obstruction of justice as the signatories to the (2) versions of the monthly gunnery report which were submitted during the investigation of the incident," the DOJ said, in a resolution dated Dec. 20, 2013.

The DOJ said an accurate and honest report was vital because "the number of bullets or shells [fired during the incident] is crucially material to the outcome of any investigation."