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3 cops indicted for murder in alleged Siargao buy-bust where Spanish national was killed

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
3 cops indicted for murder in alleged Siargao buy-bust where Spanish national was killed
This photo shows the Department of Justice office in Faura, Manila.
Philstar.com / File

MANILA, Philippines — Prosecutors are set to file a murder charge against three police officers over the killing of a Spanish national, whom enforcers claimed violently resisted arrest, in Siargao in January 2020.

The Office of the Prosecutor General said in a statement that they indicted the following on murder and planting of evidence over the death of Spanish national Diego Lafuente:

  • Police Capt. Wise Vicente Panuelos
  • Police Ssgt. Ronel Pazo
  • Police Ssgt. Nido Boy Cortes

The OPG said charges against the three police officers will be filed before the Surigao del Norte Regional Trial Court.

Lafuente’s case is one of the 52 incidents that the Department of Justice looked into for the second report of the panel reviewing “war on drugs” operations that resulted in deaths.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this week that the NBI is also set to review 250 more incidents where deaths occurred in Central Luzon anti-narcotics operations.

The bureau will also file five more complaints from among 52 it earlier reviewed.

‘Nanlaban’

The OPG said police operatives claimed that they conducted a buy-bust operation on Jan. 8, 2020 against Lafuente who they tagged as “No. 1 drug personality in the Caraga region.”

The police said Laufente fired at them, forcing them to shoot back — this has been the defense of police officers in most "war on drugs” operations that have resulted in deaths.

But the panel of prosecutors gave more weight to evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation, who filed the complaint against the cops.

“Although there were no eyewitnesses in the killing of Diego Lafuente, the recommendations of the panel of prosecutors were based on the SOCO report and forensic results that disproved the claim of respondents of a shootout,” the statement read.

The prosecutors said the fired cartridge cases (FCCs) from the police officers and supposedly from Lafuente were in close distance to each other.

"If indeed there was a shootout, the placement of the FCCs should be in opposite sides," the OPG said.

It added that investigation showed that the Spanish national jumped over the perimeter wall and was still shot by PSsgt. Cortes as evidenced by the FCC found near the area where Lafuente was lying.

State prosecutors however junked the perjury complaint against the police officers “because the alleged inconsistencies in their affidavits were not shown to be ‘false and made with willful and deliberate assertions of falsehood’ which is an essential element of the crime,” the OPG added.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

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