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Charges prepared against Calbayog mayor's son, cops after ambush-shootout
Screenshot shows the city of Calbayog in the province of Samar.
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Charges prepared against Calbayog mayor's son, cops after ambush-shootout

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - June 9, 2021 - 5:03pm

PNP files charges despite opposing NBI findings

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police has filed charges against four cops and Ronald Mark Aquino for alleged involvement in the ambush-shooting of the latter's father, Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino. 

This was confirmed by Police Maj. Gen. Alfred Corpuz at Wednesday morning's hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on the incident. 

Corpuz said that the Police Regional Office 8 had already filed homicide and murder raps against those involved in the shootout, including the victim's son. 

What happened?

To recall, Aquino—then 58 years old and serving his third and final term as the city's mayor—was ambushed by police personnel as they were on the way to attend the birthday party of his son in Brgy. Lonoy, Calbayog in March. 

In the aftermath of the killing, police insisted that the shootout started after Aquino's security detail fired first, killing Police Capt. Joselito Tabada and Police SSgt. Romeo Laoyon. 

At the Senate hearing Tuesday, the findings of the police investigation indeed differed from those of the National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday. 

NBI Eastern Visayas regional director Jerry Abiera cited witnesses who said that the men aboard Tabada's vehicle, a Toyota Innova, alighted their vehicle and started firing first after they collided with the Hi-ace of Aquino. 

The firefight would go on for several minutes until "a lone gunman approached the Hi-ace and fired close range at Mayor Aquino inside of the van."

"One of the suspects shouted 'tama na, patay na!'" the NBI's presentation read. 

The NBI Samar District Office also said it was ready to file multiple murder and frustrated cases against the subjects but said it would defer these. 

Those recommended for prosecution are:

  1. Police Lt. Col. Harry Sucayre 
  2. Police Maj. Shyrille Co Tan 
  3. Police Capt. Dino Laurente Goles 
  4. Police Lt. Julio Armeza 
  5. Police SSg Niel Cebu 
  6. Police SSg Edsel Omega 
  7. Nino Salem 
  8. Julius Garcia 
  9. Randy Merelos
  10. John Does/Jane Does

PNP doubles down on earlier narrative

Police Col. Glenn Oliver Cinco, officer-in-charge of the Samar Police Provincial Office asserted that the mayor and his aides fired first, adding that the PPO's investigation found that Tabada was shot 17 times before he died.

"Then-unidentified personalities onboard a Toyota White Hi-Ace Van first fired and bumped the vehicle while in the process of maneuvering to overtake it. The latter was then prompted to return-fire using his PNP-issued firearms to defend themselves," his presentation read. 

The officers on board all tested positive for gunpowder residues, he said, though no time frame for the presence of residue was stated.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson also pointed out that the NBI investigation was "more complete and comprehensive" and asked the PNP to surrender its findings to come up with a consolidated case. 

Sen. Francis Pangilinan added that the "he said, she said" narratives were "completely opposite in many respects," asking both parties to submit their findings to the committee. 

 'Killbayog' 

Aquino — who faced multiple counts of murder, grave threats, frustrated murder, and attempted murder — denied any involvement in the killing of his father.

The mayor's son said he had documents proving that supporters of his father were being targeted through the years, with 141 allies already being killed so far. He did not present these documents. 

Rep. Edgar Sarmiento (Samar, 1st District) who was present at the hearing cited police reports showing that 828 shooting incidents and 544 deaths were tallied since 2010. 

 The lawmaker, a personal friend of the late mayor, also brought up the possibility of dirty cops in the Samar Police Provincial Office, noting that more than half of the province's voters were from Calbayog City.

 with a report from Bella Perez-Rubio

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PNP SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
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