9 cops indicted for killing of Calbayog mayor, 3 others in March 2021

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
9 cops indicted for killing of Calbayog mayor, 3 others in March 2021
Photo shows former Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino. The post by the local government's city information office reads: "Requiescat in Pace Mayor Ronaldo Aquino."
Calbayog City Information Office on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — State prosecutors have found probable cause to charge nine cops for the killing of Calbayog Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and three others, and frustrated murder of his aide in March 2021.

The Department of Justice on Thursday said the panel of prosecutors issued a joint resolution on Dec. 15, 2021, released only on January 19, stating that the cops “ambushed” Aquino and his aides in Labuyao Bridge, Calbayog City.

The following were indicted on four counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder:

  • Police Lt. Col. Harry Villar Sucayre, team leader, Philippine National Police – Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group
  • PMaj. Shyrille Co Tan
  • PCapt. Dino Laurente Goles
  • PLt. Julio Salcedo Armeza Jr.
  • PSSg. Neil Matarum Cebu
  • PSSg. Edsel Tan Omega
  • PAT Niño Cuadra Salem
  • PCpl. Julius Udtujan Garcia
  • PSSg. Randy Caones Merelos

“In the said ambush, [Aquino] and his aides, PSSg. Rodeo Sario (security escrot) and Dennis Abayon (driver) were killed, while another aide Mansfield Labonite (personal security aide) survived due to his timely rescue and medical attention,” the DOJ said.

A civilian, Clint John Paul Yauder, was also killed in the shooting as his vehicle was just passing by the area.

The criminal Information or charge sheet against the nine cops will be filed before the Calbayog City Regional Trial Court, the DOJ added.


To recall, the Calbayog mayor, who was serving his final term, was ambushed while they were on the way to attend the birthday party of his son.

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. 

In the hearing at the Senate, National Bureau of Investigation — complainants against the cops — said witnesses stated that 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 DOJ said that in its resolution, the prosecution panel “determined that the defenses of denial, alibi and self-defense, interposed by respondents-PNP personnel, cannot be given weight in light of the positive assertions of the witnesses and the pieces of evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation.”

Following this, the PNP’s murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder complaints filed against the slain mayor’s son, Ronald Mark Aquino, PCpl. Ramil Rosales were dismissed, the DOJ said. The younger Aquino was also cleared of a grave threats rap.

Ronald Aquino’s supplemental complaint against Raymund Uy and Stephen James Tan was also junked “for there is strong indication that it is merely an afterthought,” the DOJ said.

The lone witness in the younger Aquino’s complaint, Jose Jay Senario, was also highly suspect as the “allegations appear to be farfetched which puts his own credibility in question,” it added. — with reports from Franco Luna

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