They got the wrong men

PAMPANGA, Philippines – A report by Concepcion police in the province of Tarlac portrayed a deadly shootout scene.

At around 11 a.m., four hours after a gun slay at Barangay San Nicolas Balas in the town of Concepcion, cops were able to locate at the nearby Barangay Alfonso the white Hi Ace van alleged to be the suspects' getaway vehicle.

Onboard the white van with the plate number ADJ 2035, were the suspects behind the killing of Jaime Baquing, 58, and his son Chody, 35. Police said gunfight ensued after the suspects reportedly fired at them.

Bernard Nucup was killed and Hernan Galang was arrested. Only they were the wrong men.

Results of a probe by the National Bureau of Investigation in Tarlac released exactly five months after the Aug. 12, 2017 incident found that the two victims, who were just delivering orders of Lazada customers, "have a perfect and unassailable alibi"–they were still in Pampanga when the killing in Concepcion happened.

Based on the investigation of this Bureau,
Bernard Nucup and Hernan Galang have a perfect and unassailable ailibi... At the time of the shooting incident in Concepcion, Tarlac, victim Bernard and witness Hernan were still in Magalang, Pampanga.

- NBI Tarlac District Office

Time, geographic mismatch

The dispatch monitoring log book at the Lazada warehouse in Bacolor, Pampanga, witness accounts and CCTV camera footage showed that the two could not have been in Barangay San Nicolas Balas at around 7 a.m. when the killing at the Baquing residence happened.

  • 5:54 a.m.

    Marlboro St. Calibutbut, Bacolor, Pampanga

    Bernard Nucup and Hernan Galang pick up items to be delivered
    at the Lazada warehouse.

  • 6:30-6:40 a.m.

    Barangay San Pedro Dos, Magalang, Pampanga

    The two eat breakfast of rice porridge
    at an eatery.

  • 7:01 a.m.

    Barangay San Roque, Magalang, Pampanga

    ‚ÄčThe two go to refuel
    at the ERN Refilling Station.

  • 7 a.m.

    Barangay San Nicolas Balas, Concepcion, Tarlac

    Time that the gun slay happened. Prior to the killing, witnesses say three unidentified suspects were inside the Baquing residence for several minutes before one of the victims finally met them.

At about 7:01 a.m., NBI Tarlac found that the two Lazada delivery boys were still in Barangay San Roque in Magalang, Pampanga, refueling at a gas station. The two then headed to Concepcion to deliver goods.

Even though Magalang and Concepcion are adjoining towns, initial report by Concepcion police said that before the deadly incident, the suspects lingered in the home of the Baquings for several minutes, at one point even conversing about the sale of sand with the victims' caretaker.

The NBI Tarlac probe report added that the suspects waited a while before the elder Baquing met them.

At around 6:40 a.m., however, the two Lazada delivery boys just finished eating rice porridge at Barangay San Pedro II in Magalang, Pampanga, over 8 kilometers away from the Baquing residence.

NBI probe: Police committed murder

When the alleged gunfight with police happened past 11 a.m., Galang and Nucup had just finished eating lunch at a roadside eatery in Barangay Alfonso in Concepcion. Galang escaped death as he remained inside the eatery to drink water.

Nucup, on the other hand, was already on board their white Hi Ace van to turn on its air conditioning as his usual practice. He was inside the vehicle when the alleged shootout happened.

An initial spot report of the Concepcion police only identified the getaway vehicle as a white Hi Ace van whose plate number was unknown. It was only in a progress report made later that the plate number ADJ 2035 of the van used by Nucup and Galang was identified.

The van is owned by Victor and Jennifer Palparan who are contracted to provide deliveries for online shopping site Lazada.

Galang, who is now languishing in jail over murder charges, said in his sworn statement filed before the Commission on Human Rights in Central Luzon that he and others inside the eatery were told by the cops to crawl out when the gunshots stopped.

Upon seeing what happened to his colleague, he asked the police for help. But instead he was ordered to lie face down to be searched.

"... [S]abi ko po tulungan po ninyo ang kasama ko... Tapos sabi po nila: 'Ah! kasama mo yon,' sabi po nila. 'Opo,' sabi ko, 'sa Lazada po kame,' sabi ko po. Tapos pinaluhod at pinadapa po ako, kinapkapan po," Galang said in his sworn statement.

(I told them to help my colleague, but they exclaimed, 'So you're with him!' Then I said, 'Yes, we're from Lazada.' Then they asked me to kneel and lie face down. They searched me.) He added that he overheard someone say: "Patay parang mali ang timbre (It seems they're the wrong men)."

The NBI Tarlac in its probe report said that the responding policemen committed murder and recommended the prosecution of PO2 Reymond Magcalas, PO1 Ricky Gonzales, PO1 Mark Bucu, PO1 John Paulo Ramos and PO1 Petronilo Bassig. The five are all stationed at the Concepcion Municipal Police Station.

'Way too young'

At the scene where the alleged shootout with the delivery boys occurred, Scene of the Crime Operatives found a caliber .45 loaded with six bullets, one metallic fragment and one deformed fired bullet, among others.

A chemistry report of the Philippine National Police Tarlac Provincial Crime Laboratory Office, however, showed that Nucup tested negative for the presence of gunpowder nitrates on his hands.

Police also said that there was a third suspect who allegedly eluded arrest. Description of the three suspects that killed the Baquings and wounded Rustico Sevilla, 76, and Marcelo Marcelo, 63, however, differs with the features of Nucup and Galang.

Witness account indicated that the suspects, who were all wearing PNP patrol shirts and pistol belts, were around 35 to 40 years old. Nucup was just 21 years old while Galang is 24 years old.

Marcelo, a witness who was among the wounded during the gun slay at the Baquing residence, also recanted a previous statement identifying Nucup and Galang as the gunmen. He said the police made him sign the statement while he was undergoing treatment at the hospital's intensive care unit.

When he was shown photos of the two delivery boys by the NBI Tarlac, Marcelo said the two could not have been the gunmen because they were "way too young."

The deadly shooting came amid criticisms against President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks encouraging cops to kill suspects in his crackdown against drugs and criminality and offering protection to them.

In December last year, police also killed two people onboard a white Mitsubishi Adventure after mistaking them for gunmen in Mandaluyong City. – Co-produced by Ricky Ulnagan, Jonathan Asuncion and RP Ocampo