Ombudsman confirms dismissal of 5 NBI agents

CEBU CITY — The Office of the Ombudsman has confirmed the dismissal from government service of five National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents involved in the Dec. 13 botched operation that nearly killed six Plantation Bay employees.

The six-month suspension of former NBI regional director Romulo Manapsal was also confirmed.

Last Monday, President Arroyo congratulated the police for the arrest last Sunday night of Roberto Hegremosa, the suspected drug pusher who had been the original target of the manhunt in the botched operation.

In its order dated June 12, the Ombudsman ordered NBI agents Angelito Magno, Arnel Pura, Danilo Garay, Rey Tumalon and Teodoro Saavedra dismissed and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

They earlier had filed a motion to reconsider their dismissal, but the Ombudsman denied their motion, finding them guilty of grave misconduct.

The agents were involved in a bungled drug bust when they mercilessly fired at six Plantation Bay employees who were riding in a van in Mandaue City before dawn last Dec. 13.

The agents said it was a legitimate drug operation, but immediately after the shooting, they found themselves hitting the wrong targets.

Benefits due the agents were forfeited with their dismissal and disqualification.

The anti-graft office also denied Manapsal’s motion to have his suspension shortened and instead confirmed his six-month suspension for simple misconduct when he defied an earlier order of NBI director Reynaldo Wycoco to terminate the services of confidential agents.

On top of these administrative charges, the Ombudsman found sufficient grounds for criminal liabilities, recommending the filing of charges of multiple frustrated murder and double attempted murder against the five NBI agents and their confidential agents.

Osmeña undeterred

But Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who has engaged the services of Pura and Manapsal at City Hall, was not deterred with Pura’s permanent disqualification and Manapsal’s suspension.

He thinks Manapsal and Pura are "psychologically prepared for retirement" even as he still has to hear an opinion from the city attorney on hiring them.

A joint team led by Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Bureau chief Rodolfo Albotra and Vice Control Section chief Marvin Sanchez arrested Hegremosa, along with a certain Yap and Moses Reyes, during a drug buy-bust at St. Michael Village Banilad last Sunday night.

President Arroyo sent her congratulations through text messages to the Cebu City police and councilor Sylvan Jack Jakosalem. They received the messages Monday noon.

While police were hunting him down, Hegremosa said he hid at his home in Barangay Luz. He was reportedly in Barili during the bungled operation on Dec. 13.

The NBI agents acted on a tip from Emilou Gimeno, a female drug suspect they arrested earlier. Gimeno said her supplier was riding in a Mitsubishi L-300 van.

The Plantation Bay employees — Michael Monsod, Nenette Castillon, Gian Carlo Cajoles, Esther Luz Mae Gregorio, Donaldo Enabe and Alfie Fernandez — were on their way home from a Christmas party, also riding in a similar van.

Since the resort employees’ van almost resembled the one which Gimeno had described, the NBI agents tried to flag it down. Anticipating that the armed men were "bad elements," Monsod, who was driving, immediately sped away purposely to look for the nearest police station.

But after a few seconds, he heard gunshots and saw through the rear view mirror that the NBI agents were chasing them.

Gemino later clarified that she did not specifically describe the van as dark green, which resembled the one being used by the resort employees which was an L-300 Mitsubishi Exceed van.

She also told NBI operatives about the safehouse of Hegremosa in Barangay Cambaro, Mandaue City. — Freeman News Service












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