17 cops face murder complaint over killing of labor leader on ‘Bloody Sunday’

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 01 2021 10:21 PM

MANILA—Seventeen police officers involved in the killing of labor leader Manny Asuncion in March 2020 are facing a murder complaint before the Dasmariñas City prosecutors office.

In a copy of the subpoena dated November 22 released by the Justice department on Wednesday, investigating prosecutor Rogelio Radoc, Jr. summoned the following police officers for the preliminary investigation of a murder complaint against them on January 11 and 25, 2022:

  • Police Lieutenant Elbert Santos
  • Police Lieutenant Shay Jed Sapitula
  • Police Senior Master Sergeant Hector Cardinales
  • Police Master Sergeant Ariel dela Cruz
  • Police Staff Sergeant Joemark Sajul
  • Police Corporal Ernie Ambuyoc
  • Police Corporal Mark John Defiesta
  • Police Corporal Arjay Garcia
  • Police Corporal Caidar Dimacangun
  • Police Corporal Bryan Sanchez
  • Police Corporal Ericson Lucido
  • Patrolman Jayson Maala
  • Patrolman Juanito Plite
  • Patrolman Jonathan Tatel
  • Patrolman Prince Benjamin Torres
  • Patrolman Jaime Turingan
  • Patrolman Lopera Rey PJ Dacara

Santos, Sajul and Ambuyoc are part of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group while most of the other respondents belong to the Calabarzon police regional office.

The release of the subpoena confirms the filing of the murder complaint, which Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra disclosed to the media on Wednesday morning.

“In the case of the death of Emmanuel Asuncion, the AO 35 special investigating team (SIT) has recommended the filing of murder charges against certain law enforcement agents involved in the incident,” he said.

The AO 35 task force is a special team tasked to probe politically-motivated killings of activists, first formed in 2012.

Guevarra earlier said the AO 35 task force will probe the deaths of the 9 activists killed on March 7 this year during the so-called Bloody Sunday which also saw several activists arrested during the simultaneous service of search warrants in different areas in the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal.

Human rights groups and activists have claimed the service of the search warrants were illegal.

In Asuncion’s case, the search warrant was for his house but was implemented in his office.

Witnesses also said there was no service of search warrants on Asuncion as law enforcers allegedly brought him into a room and killed him, contrary to claims he fought back.

Among those killed were fisherfolk leaders Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista in Batangas.

Their 10-year-old child supposedly saw how they were dragged out of their cottage and brought to another house where gunshots were heard. The 2 were declared dead upon arrival at a hospital.

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Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation is finishing its probe.

“In the case of the death of the Evangelista spouses, the NBI is winding up its interviews of witnesses, and the SIT report will be out in about two weeks,” he said.

The investigations in other deaths are on-going.

Meanwhile, the deaths of two others during Bloody Sunday — those of Puroy dela Cruz and Randy dela Cruz were excluded in the probe as “no cause-oriented connection was established.”