MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice(DOJ) has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug, Commander of the Manila Police District's Police Station 2, and six others for the torture and subsequent death of one Darius Evangelista while in police custody in March 2010.
In a 24-page resolution dated August 22, 2011 by investigating Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Phillip Kimpo and approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, the DOJ recommended the filing of charges for Torture Resulting in the Death of any Person, as defined and penalized under Republic Act No. 9745(Anti-torture Act of 2009) against Binayug, Supt. Rogelio Rosales, Commander of the Manila Police District Meisic Police Station 11 in Binondo Manila, SPO3 Joaquin de Guzman, SPO1 Rodolfo Ong, SPO1 Dante Bautista, PO1 Nonito Binayug, and PO1 Rex Binayug.
"[I]t is clear from the ABS-CBN TV Patrol News footage shown during the hearing that the crime of torture was committed. In the said video footage, a man in white shirt can be seen pulling forcefully the penis of a naked tattooed victim. The penis was pulled forcefully not just once but several times. Obviously, this is torture as defined under RA 9745," the resolution read.
"In the instant case, as correctly argued by private complainant(Margie Evangelista), it is clear that there is probable cause to indict all respondents for the crime of torture," the resolution read.
Video footage of the alleged torture went viral on video sharing site YouTube last year.
The DOJ gave weight to the testimony of 3 former inmates of Police Station 11 where Evangelista, a suspected thief, was first brought.
"After viewing the video clip, the 3 inmates positively identified the naked tortured victim as Darius Evangelista while the man sitting in front of him committing the acts of torture as PSInsp Renato(Should be Joselito) Binayug but they could not identify the other persons shown in the video clip," the resolution read.
Witnesses Emmanuel Miranda, Sonny Lim and Renato Peralta said Evangelista was initially brought and detained at a room inside Station 11 in the morning of March 5, 2010 but subsequently brought out and "tortured elsewhere" by the police officials.
"In this unique case if 'torture,' both the police station commanders of the 2 precincts concerned are also being charged under the doctrine of 'command responsibility' as incorporated under RA 9745... it is so provided that 'the immediate senior public official of the PNP and other law enforcement agencies shall be held liable as a principal to the crime of torture or other cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment for any act or commission, or negligence committed by him/her that shall have led, assisted, abetted or allowed, whether directly or indirectly, the commission thereof by his/her subordinates," the resolution read.
In a text message to ABS-CBN News, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said: "It's a significant development because, if I'm not mistaken, it's the first case filed and resolved under the aegis of the Anti-torture Act."
"The handling prosecutor recommended filing of criminal information not only against Binayug but his colleagues [as well] on the basis of conspiracy, and also against the police station commander under the doctrine of command responsibility," De Lima added.
The resolution stated that respondent Rosales, as Station 11 Commander, "should have known that acts of torture on victim Darius Evangelista were being committed of had been committed by his subordinates or by others within his area of responsibility...."
As to the admissibility of the torture video clip which was assailed by respondents, the resolution stated: "It bears stressing that the issue of authentication is not applicable in preliminary investigation. Preliminary investigation exists only for the purpose of 'probable cause,' not for 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' which is already the province of trial proper in court."
"Besides, the 'video footage' is only a part of the totality of the evidence of complainant, the other being the testimonies of witnesses in the continuing crime of torture," the resolution read.
The charge against Police Station 2 Commander Supt. Ernesto Tendero Jr. was dismissed for "lack or insufficiency of evidence" while the charge against SPO1 Burt Tupas was dismissed after having been dropped during the preliminary investigation.