By Jeffrey Damicog
The slain security aide of former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong was believed to have been tortured before he was killed by policemen, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said on Tuesday.
Chong claimed that Santillan’s toe nail was pulled out and he had hematoma and a big gash on the left and right side of his body.
With these findings, Acosta said the family of Richard Santillan, Chong’s security aide, is set to file criminal complaints against members Cainta Police who claimed to have killed him in an operation against what they called the “Highway Boys” – an organized crime syndicate involved in robbery-holdup, arms dealing, and illegal drug trade in Calabarzon (Region 4A).
It turned out Santillan was the security aide of election reform lawyer and senatorial candidate Glenn Chong for 11 years.
“We will file cases,” said Acosta, whose office accepted the request of Santillan’s wife, Jeanette, to represent her.
Acosta said PAO forensics team, led by Dr. Erwin Erfe, conducted an autopsy of Santillan’s cadaver which was finished just before dawn Tuesday.
She revealed that “the findings of the forensic team (show) that there are signs of torture.”
“Humihingi po sila ng hustisya dahil lumilitaw na tinorture bago pinatay (The family is asking for justice because it appears Santillan was tortured before being killed),” said the PAO chief.
Erfe explained that the autopsy of Santillan indicates he was believed to have been beaten and stabbed before dying.
He said the gunshot wounds on the body also reveal that Santillan may have been already dead when he was placed in his vehicle and his body repeatedly fired upon by policemen.
“Inilagay siya sa kotse at doon binaril pero at that time mukhang patay na siya because there is no more tissue reaction (He was placed in the car and there he fired upon. But by then it appears he was already dead because the wounds show there are no more tissue reaction),” Erfe explained.
At past 12 a.m. on Dec. 10, Santillan who was driving a Toyota Fortuner and his companion reportedly died after he allegedly traded shots with policemen during an operation in Barangay San Andres, Cainta.
Policemen claimed that the vehicle was flagged down at a checkpoint and the occupants presented no registration papers.
They added the vehicle sped off after the occupants refused to step out.
Policemen said a shootout followed after a chase of the vehicle.
With this development, the PNP said it will not tolerate any wrongdoing of its own personnel if proven they have committed violations of the law related to the death of Santillan.
“It is still being investigated. No less than the regional director of PRO-Calabarzon [Chief Superintendent Edward Carranza] has already relieved the Cainta chief of police [Supt. Pablito Naganag] and the Rizal provincial commander [Senior Supt. Lou Evangelista] to pave the way for an impartial investigation,” said PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde.
“If the investigation shows that there is abuse or use of excessive force on the part of the police, then we will not tolerate that,” he added.
Aside from high-ranking police officials, 15 other police officers in Cainta had been ordered relieved by Carranza.
Chong, for his part, urged the PNP to expedite the investigation so that the bereaved family of Santillan could finally get the justice that they deserve.
Chong, a staunch Duterte supporter, also believes the cops killed his security aid as he belied the police report saying he died in a shootout.
“PAO preliminary report on the post-mortem on Richard Santillan: he was abducted, tortured, executed and set up to fit the false narrative of the police,” Chong said in a statement on his social media account Tuesday.
He said Santillan was with him in Naga City for a political event on December 9, the eve of the incident. Apparently, Santillan left around 10 p.m. and headed back to Cainta for a gift-giving activity.
But the next thing Chong heard of Santillan, he was shot dead by police in an armed encounter around 1:15 a.m.
“There’s a lag of about three hours and 15 minutes. I want the PNP to explain what happened during that lag,” he said.
“Walang lusot ang mga pulis dito. Sabog ang kanilang script (The cops have no way out of this case. Your script is a failure),” he added. (With a report from Martin A. Sadongdong)