Jemboy slay: Ex-cop gets 4 years for homicide

Mark Ernest Villeza, Daphne Galvez - The Philippine Star
Jemboy slay: Ex-cop gets 4 years for homicide
Police secure former police officers accused of killing Jemboy Baltazar during the promulgation of the case at the Navotas Regional Trial Court yesterday. At right, Baltazar’s mother, Rhoda, laments the light penalty.
Ernie Peñaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — A Navotas court has found only one of six former police officers guilty in the killing of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar in August 2023, and only for the lesser crime of homicide.

In a 44-page decision promulgated yesterday, Judge Pedro Dabu Jr. of the Navotas Regional Trial Court Branch 276 sentenced former S/Sgt. Gerry Maliban to up to six years in prison for the lower offense of homicide.

Four others were convicted only of illegal discharge of firearms and sentenced to four months. Executive M/Sgt. Roberto Balais Jr., S/Sgt. Nikko Esquilon, Cpl. Edmark Jake Blanco and Pat. Benedict Mangada were ordered released by the court, which said they have already served their sentence during the trial.

The sixth defendant, S/ Sgt. Antonio Bugayong, was acquitted.

The Navotas prosecutor’s office had filed murder charges against the policemen, who were dismissed from the PNP in September last year.

But the court ruled that the policemen were simply performing their duty when they mistook Baltazar for a murder suspect and shot him dead.

Baltazar was repairing a boat when he was shot by the policemen in Barangay NBBS on Aug. 2, 2003. He fell into the sea and was fished out lifeless hours later.

DOJ to appeal lighter penalties

The Baltazar family and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will appeal the lower court’s decision imposing lighter penalties on the accused.

At a press conference at the DOJ, Jemboy’s parents, Rhoda and Jessie, expressed disappointment over the verdict, saying “it was not enough.”

“One of them will only serve four years in prison. My son is gone forever,” Rhoda told reporters, lamenting that Jemboy was shot like a dog.

DOJ spokesman Mico Clavano said the department is committed to exhaust all legal remedies available to “bring justice to Jemboy.”

Clavano said they would elevate the case to the Court of Appeals.

“It will be the solicitor general who will handle the case,” he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros lamented the conviction of only one police officer for the killing of Baltazar.

“The five out of six policemen getting a slap on the wrist for Jemboy’s death does not honor his memory. He was just a kid,” Hontiveros said.

Baltazar’s death at the hands of the police only showed the “systemic failure” in the Philippine National Police, according to Hontiveros. – Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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