CEBU CITY – The controversial case involving 11 policemen and a 35-year-old woman has taken a tragic twist when one of the suspects allegedly committed suicide just a few hours after the complainant herself was gunned down Monday night, April 19.
Ritchie Nepomuceno was fatally shot shortly after she disembarked from a police-owned vehicle in Barangay Basak-Pardo.
About three hours later, Police Staff Sgt. Celso Colita, the policeman who was accused of raping Nepomuceno twice, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in a comfort room of one of the offices of the Police Regional Office-Central Visayas Headquarters.
Nepomuceno had filed several charges last month against Colita, Police Chief Master Sgt. Eric Edgar Emia, Police Cpl. Rochelito Mabulay, Police Cpl. Emmanuel Martinez, Police Staff Sgt. Joseph Alcoseba, Police Staff Sgt. Michael Rhey Cabizares, Police Cpl. Carlo Irizari, Police Cpl. Junel Pedroza, Police Cpl. John Carl Aceron and Police Cpl. Georny Abrasado.
Police Maj. Alejandro Batobalonos chief of the Integrity Monitoring and Enhancement Group-Visayas Field Unit (IMEG-VFU) said their men accompanied Nepomuceno Monday morning to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center for her scheduled examination and was done by late afternoon of the same day.
After the scheduled hospital checkup, Nepomuceno was immediately escorted up to a point where she prefers to be dropped off by the IMEG-VFU personnel.
“We really didn’t know the exact location of her apartment in Basak-Pardo because she would just direct us to an area where we can pick her up if we need her for some paperworks in relation to the cases that she filed,” said Batobalonos.
“She was standing by the road when she was shot. It seemed like the perpetrators had been monitoring her from the hospital until she was brought home. The perpetrators appeared to have just waited for the police escort to leave before they killed her,” added Batobalonos.
Police Maj. Glenn Hife, chief of the Regional Drug Enforcement Group was doing an internal investigation with Colita and his co-accused inside his office just moments after Nepomuceno was killed.
“I observed that he was okay. We were laughing at one point. But he seemed shocked when I asked him if he already knew that the complainant had been ambushed,” said Hife.
“I asked him if he was involved or he had knowledge of the killing. He didn’t answer. He just bowed his head and dropped his shoulders.”
Colita then asked for permission to go to the comfort room where he later on shot himself in the head with a .45 caliber pistol. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Colita’s wife, who immediately went to the PRO 7 Headquarters after learning about the tragedy, shared that her husband had been depressed due to the accusations hurled against him.
“He was affected by the case according to the wife. I also asked forgiveness from his wife since the incident happened in my office,” said Hife.
The string of charges stemmed from the March 9 incident wherein the 11 policemen searched the house of Nepomuceno in Barangay Tungkil, Minglanilla town.
She was accused of keeping illegal drugs and unlicensed firearms in her house but no contraband was found during the search.
After her house was inspected, the woman alleged that she was brought to the Sawang Calero Station but the supposed police operation was not recorded in the police blotter.
Nepomuceno claimed that the 11 policemen took P170,000 from her and that she was raped twice by Colita before she was allowed to go home.
With the help of IMEG-VFU, grave coercion, robbery and grave threats were filed against the 11 police. Two counts of rape were also filed against Colita.