MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed 2 counts of murder charges against 25 policemen for the killing of a 53-year-old seafarer and his 7-year-old daughter after being caught in the bloody Parañaque shootout in 2008.
The charges were filed before the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court after investigating prosecutor Stewart Allan Mariano found probable cause to indict the policemen for the death of Alfonso "Jun" De Vera and daughter Lia Allan during a shootout between policemen and a robbery group last Dec. 5, 2008 at the United Parañaque Subdivision IV.
Fourteen other people were killed during the shootout, including members of the robbery group called the Waray-Waray Ozamis gang.
Charged were Superintendent Jonathan Calixto, Chief Inspector Hermogenes Cabe, Senior Inspector Abraham Abayari, Inspector Erikson Roranes, Inspector Ludivico Cordova, , Police Officers 1 James Yodong, Allan Apil, Efren Angcuan, Lloyd Bulayungan, Nemesio Gano and Sherwin Maybanting, Police Officers 3 Hagar Torres, Jericho Otadoy, Guilbert Lopez, Felix Base, Eugene Papat-Ew, and Policarpio Jose, Jr., all members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).
Also charged were Highway Patrol Group (HPG) members Chief Inspectors Lawrence Cajipe, Joel Mendoza, Gerardo Balatucan; Police Officers 3 Jolito Mamanao Jr., and Fernando Rey Gapuz; Police Officers 2 Eduardo Blanco and Edwin Santos; and PO1 Josil Rey Lucena.
The justice department recommended no bail for the policemen.
The DOJ gave credence to the affidavits of eyewitnesses Hilardio Diaz and Ronald Castillo in the filed information of the case before the local court.
The 2 witnesses said in their testimonies that De Vera and his daughter were not killed in the shootout. They said the policemen already had complete control of the area where the 2 were killed.
Castillo said in his testimony that the policemen strafed at De Vera's Isuzu Crosswind, instantly killing his daughter. He added that the policemen also shot De Vera dead when he alighted from his vehicle to carry his daughter to safety.
The DOJ also noted in the information filed before the local court that 80 bullets pierced through De Vera's vehicle, indicating that several policemen fired their guns at the De Veras.
"It is without an iota of doubt that respondent-policemen from the SAF were seen by the two witnesses firing at the Crosswind vehicle of the De Veras, that they also shot Jun de Vera, and that there was no exchange of fire," the resolution stated.
Top officials absolved
The DOJ, meanwhile, cleared retired police director general Leopoldo Bataoil, who was then chief of the National Capital Region Police Office. Also absolved from the murder charges were Director Leocadio SC Santiago Jr., chief of the PNP-SAF and Chief Superintendent Perfecto Palad, head of the PNP-HPG.
"Respondents Bataoil, Palad and Santiago Jr., could not be held criminally liable therefore, absent any indicia of proof that they indeed attended the briefing, and directed much less participated in the actual operations, which sadly, had gone awry," the resolution stated.
It noted that the only participation of the three generals in the case was their prior knowledge of the operation and of the incident immediately after it transpired.
Also absolved was Superintendent Eleuterio Gutierrez, Jr., the ground commander, who was among the first policemen to be wounded during the shootout with the robbery gang members.
The DOJ said Gutierrez was "practically rendered helpless as ground commander" due to gunshot wound he sustained. Gutierrez's body was paralyzed after being hit in the head during the shootout.
The justice department theorized that when Gutierrez got wounded, confusion ensued among the policemen under his command which resulted in the death of the De Veras.