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3 PDEA, 4 PNP personnel indicted over 2021 Commonwealth shootout

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
3 PDEA, 4 PNP personnel indicted over 2021 Commonwealth shootout
Inter-agency investigators gather evidence and inspect the lifeless body found inside a van following a bungled encounter between operatives of the PNP and PDEA at a fastfood chain along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday night, Feb. 24, 2020.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — State prosecutors have indicted three agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and four police officers over a botched anti-drug operation in February 2021 where four people died in a shootout between government personnel.

The Department of Justice said in a statement released on Thursday that it issued, on May 2, a resolution indicting the following PDEA agents for homicide over the death of Police Cpl. Eric Elvin Garado:

  • Khee Maricar Rodas
  • Jeffrey Baguidudol
  • Jelou Satiniaman

Prosecutors are also set to file charges against the following cops for direct assault:

  • Police Cpl. Paul Christian Gandeza, for injuries of PDEA agent Raymart Bayote
  • Police Lt. Honey Sesas, for injuries of PDEA agent Prince Bernard Gallego
  • Police Maj. Sandie Caparroso, for injuries of PDEA agent Brenson Sulang
  • Police Maj. Caparroso and P/SMSg. Melvin Merida, for injuries of PDEA agent Allan Capiral

The DOJ said the Information or charge sheets will be filed before Quezon City courts.

The incident

The indictment stemmed from the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation, whom President Rodrigo Duterte taasked with conducting a probe into the incident.

The clash between PDEA and PNP agents happened outside Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City in what was initially described as a "misencounter." Two police officers, a PDEA agent and a PDEA informant were killed in the shooting.

"The Panel of Prosecutors determined the facts that both PDEA and PNP where conducting their separate buy-bust operations along Commonwealth Avenue," the DOJ said, but the informants of the two agencies intertwined the operations.

"After evaluation of the evidence, the Panel of Prosecutors found sufficient evidence to charge the three PDEA agents for homicide for the death of Garado.

“With respect to the injuries sustained by the PDEA responders, there are sufficient evidence identifying some police officers who actually hit, [struck and mauled] them,” the DOJ said.

Other raps dropped

The DOJ however cleared PDEA agent Romeo Asuncion of the homicide complaint over the death of Police Cpl. Lauro De Guzman "on the ground that the firearm and caliber used to shoot" the police officer was never identified.

No bullets or spent cartridges that matched Asuncion’s firearm were recovered in the area, it added.

The homicide complaint against Police Cpl. Alvin Borja over the death of PDEA agent Rankin Gano was also junked. "The medico-legal report and the ballistic examination by the NBI-FILD failed to identify the fatal shot at agent Gano. There is also no record showing that [Borja] was the only one who actually shot Gano," the DOJ also said.

Complaints for attempted homicide, falsification of official document, robbery, conniving to or consenting to evasion, arbitrary detention, sedition and violation of the Anti-Torture Act were also junked "for insufficiency of evidence."

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

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