Slain Red consultant's peers, kin face raps for taking evidence

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2019 10:39 AM

MANILA - The Cagayan Valley regional police on Thursday lodged complaints against 2 colleagues and a relative of a slain communist consultant for taking evidence related to his killing last week. 

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Malayao was shot dead inside a bus in Nueva Vizcaya last Jan. 30. The assailant escaped on board a motorcycle driven by a cohort. 

Malayao's laptop and 6 cellphones, which could help in the investigation, were allegedly taken from police custody by his sibling Perla Upano, provincial board member Edu Balgos, and a certain Rina Balgos. 

Police filed complaints for obstruction of justice, grave coercion and grave threat against the trio. 

Mrs. Balgos allegedly demanded to observe the inventory of the crime scene and insinuated that officers may plant evidence, claimed Chief Insp. Giovanni Cejes, former head of the Aritao police, in an affidavit. 

Cejes said Balgos continued her tirades even after he explained that authorities are following standard operating procedure in the investigation.

Balgos also mistakenly assumed that policemen in the area were members of the Military Intelligence Group, he said. 
Upano soon after came to the police station and refused to sign a consent form for police to examine her slain sibling's gadgets, said Cejes. 

The policeman said Upano later handed her a phone, over which he talked to Mr. Balgos, a provincial board member, who allegedly yelled at him that he had no right to withhold Malayao's belongings. 

"He was outrageous in telling me that I was committing a human right violation and that I am ignorant of what I was doing," Cejes said. 

Mrs. Balgos also asked him if he wanted to summoned by Congress, he said. 

Cejes said he "reluctantly" released Malayao's belongings due to "undue pressure." 

The items, he said, could have been "very instrumental in unfolding the truth" and that their loss left police "empty handed" in their investigation. 
Cejes and the chief of the Nueva Vizcaya province were removed from their posts for supposed negligence in handling the evidence. 

Cagayan Valley police director Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino has asked Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año’s help to retrieve Malayao's personal belongings. 
Police also reviewed security measures with bus operators. 

Malayao, formerly among leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Cagayan Valley, was arrested in Cainta, Rizal in 2008. 

He was accused and later acquitted of involvement in the 2001 killing of Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo, a former military officer and prominent anti-communist campaigner. 

Before peace talks between the government and the NDFP collapsed in 2017, Malayao attended the negotiations in Europe. 
Government had halted talks citing continuing rebel attacks against state troops when negotiations were ongoing.