NBI files criminal charges vs 9 policemen for killing Calbayog City mayor, 2 others

Published June 11, 2021, 5:43 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

National Bureau of Investigation

Murder and frustrated murder charges have been filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against nine policemen in the killing last March 8 of Calbayog City Mayor Ronald P. Aquino and his companions.

Charged were Lt.Col. Harry Villar Sucayre, Maj. Shyrile Co Tan, Capt. Dino Laurente Goles, Lt. Julio Salcedoi Armeza Jr., and policemen Niel Matarum Cebu, Edsel Tan Omega, Nino C. Salem, Julius Garcia, and Randy Merelos.

They were also charged with the killing of Aquino’s bodyguard Rodeo B. Sario and driver Dennis O. Abayon.

All the nine police officers and men were also charged with frustrated murder for the wounding of Aquino’s assistant Mansfield F. Labonte and civilian Conrado Yauder Jr.

The filing of the charges by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last Thursday, June 10, was confirmed on Friday, June 11, by Assistant State Prosecutor Honey Rose E. Delgado, spokesperson of the DOJ’s Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG).

Last March 9, DOJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra issued Department Order No. 057 which directed the NBI “to conduct an investigation on the shooting incident… and, if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against all persons involved and found responsible for any unlawful act in connection therewith.”

In filing the murder and frustrated murder charges, the NBI presented as evidence the statements of the survivors and witnesses as well as the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage which corroborated the statements.

Aquino and his companions were on board his Toyota Super Grandia Hi-Ace van when they were ambushed at 4:45 p.m. last March 8 along Labuyao Bridge in Barangay Lonoy, Calbayog City.

They were on their way to the birthday celebration of Aquino’s son, Mark, in Villa Marcelina Resort in Barangay Tinambacan, also in Calbayog City.

“Unbeknownst to them, the group of Subjects were already tailing them. The subject Toyota Innova with plate number ZBM 392 started to follow the Mayor’s Hi-ace from Margan Construction Supply, where the Innova ZBM 392 made a sudden U-turn, when it met the convoy of Mayor Aquino,” read the NBI’s letter referral addressed to Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento.

“Three other vehicles of Subjects (a white Toyota Hi-Lux, a dark Toyota Fortuner and a white Mitsubishi Montero) later joined the Subject Innova and were seen closely following the Hi-Ace van of the Mayor. Caught in between the convoy of the subjects was a red Toyota Innova driven by complainant Yauder and his son Clint John Yauder,” it said.

Upon reaching the Labuyao Bridge, the NBI said “the subject Toyota Hi-Lux collided with the left rear portion of the Hi-Ace van causing it to be shoved to the left railing of the bridge.”

“Thereafter, the group of Subjects, all police officers, wearing bonnets and/or hats, armed with long and short firearms, took turns and, acting in batches, fired at and rained bullets on the vehicle of the Mayor,” it said.

It also said that during the shooting someone was heard shouting: “Tama na patay na (stop, he’s dead).”

“The group sped off to a nearby police camp at Barangay Palanas Cara,” it added.