MANILA, Philippines — The seven cops who were recommended six counts of murder and arbitrary detention over the February killings of six in a fabricated drug operation in Bulacan were dismissed from service in June this year, the chief of the Philippine National Police disclosed Wednesday.
"I personally signed the decision to remove these policemen from service after it was proven in our investigation that they planted drugs and guns to show that what happened in Bulacan was a legitimate operation," Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said in Filipino in a statement sent to reporters.
"This is unacceptable and I will not tolerate these kinds of abuse and nonsense because those like them are destroying our campaign against drugs and in the name of your Philippine National Police," he added.
To recall, an investigating panel recommended in a resolution the filing of six counts of murder and six counts of arbitrary detention against:
- Police SSgt. Benjie Enconado
- Police SSgt. Irwin Joy Yuson
- Police Cpl. Marlon Martus
- Police Cpl. Edmund Catubay Jr.
- Police Cpl. Harvy Albino
- Police Cpl. Herbert Hernaded
- Police Patrolman Rusco Virnar Madla
Based on the investigation of the Internal Affairs Service, the six victims "just happened to pass by the area" where the policemen were conducting anti-illegal drugs operations on February 13 earlier this year when they were all arrested.
They were then brought to the police station where they were hogtied and detained but not booked for any offense.
Days later, on February 18, they were taken to a secluded area in Barangay Gaya-Gaya in San Jose del Monte City where they were shot.
According to Eleazar, the seven cops made it appear that they were drug personalities who died in a legitimate encounter by planting illegal drugs and firearms.
The PNP has otherwise stood by operations where people have been killed, allegedly for violently resisting arrest.
Citing the evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation to the prosecution panel, the justice department in a statement said the victims were "unlawfully and forcibly taken...but in truth and in fact, no buy-bust operation was ever conducted against them" despite the police claim.
The DOJ, however, dropped the cases of murder and arbitrary detention against these other PNP personnel for lack of probable cause:
- Police Major Leo dela Rosa
- Police Staff Sergeant Jayson Legaspi
- Police Cpl. Jay Marc Leoncio
- Police Cpl. Constante Escalante Jr.
- Police Cpl. Raymond Bayan
- Police Cpl. Paul Malgapo
- Police Cpl. Randy Camitoc
- Police Patrolman Erwin Sabido
All of them, however, were also charged with grave offense for the incident in San Jose del Monte City for violations of Section 29 of Republic Act No. 9165 or planting of illegal drugs, and Section 38 of Republic Act No. 10591 or planting of firearms.
They were found guilty and were recommended for dismissal from the service.
The IAS recommendation was reviewed by the Discipline, Law and Order Division of the Directorate for Personnel Records and Management which drafted the decision for approval of Eleazar, who signed the decision to dismiss the 15 in June.
The chief of police of San Jose del Monte City at the time, Police Lt. Col. Gil Domingo, was also handed a six-month suspension for command responsibility.
Eleazar said the dismissals were "proof that the justice system exists in our country." — Franco Luna with a report from Kristine Joy Patag