4 drug war cops guilty of killing father, son

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
4 drug war cops guilty of killing father, son
Four police officers answer questions from the media after the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court found them guilty of killing Luis Bonifacio and his son Gabriel yesterday.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — A Caloocan City court convicted yesterday four police officers for the killing of a father and son during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in 2016.

Judge Ma. Rowena Violago Alejandria of the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Branch 121 found M/ Sgt. Virgilio Cervantes as well as Corporals Arnel de Guzman, Johnston Alacre and Artemio Saguros guilty of homicide for the death of Luis Bonifacio and his son Gabriel.

The policemen were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

The court also ordered them to pay the victims’ heirs P400,000 for actual, moral, temperate and civil damages.

The Bonifacio family described the conviction as a “partial victory” as the police officers were initially charged with murder. The Office of the Ombudsman downgraded the case to homicide.

Based on court records, around 15 to 20 anti-narcotics officers stormed the victims’ house on Sept. 15, 2016.

Bonifacio’s widow, Mary Ann Domingo, said he pleaded on his knees as guns were pointed at his head.

Domingo said Gabriel refused to leave his father as she and her other children were dragged outside when they heard gunshots coming from the house.

Bonifacio died at the scene while Gabriel was pronounced dead on arrival in the hospital.

In March 2017, Domingo filed murder charges against the Caloocan policemen.

Citing lack of evidence, the ombudsman downgraded the charge to homicide in 2021.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) welcomed the conviction of the Caloocan policemen.

“It has been a long and arduous journey for justice, fueled more by the courage and determination of the Bonifacio family as well as supporting organizations and people rather than by any genuine effort on the part of authorities,” the NUPL said.

“This homicide conviction has shown that the bloody hands of authorities are behind Oplan Tokhang, which left thousands, mostly from the ranks of the destitute, dead,” the group added.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of rights group Karapatan, said the police officers should have been convicted of murder, which carries a penalty of life in prison.

This is the fourth conviction of police personnel involved in the thousands of killings in Duterte’s drug war, Palabay said. — Janvic Mateo, Emmanuel Tupas

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with