Long before the Department of Justice recommended the filing of six counts of murder against seven policemen tagged in the killing of six friends in Bulacan in February last year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has already kicked them out of the police service for administrative charges relating to planting of drugs and firearms.
In fact, PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar said the eight other companions of the seven policemen who were involved in the same operation was also dismissed from the service along with them.
“Ako mismo ang pumirma ng desisyon na tanggalin sa serbisyo ang mga pulis na ito matapos mapatunayan sa aming imbestigasyon na sila ay nagtanim ng droga at baril para palabasin na ang nangyari sa Bulacan ay isang lehitimong operasyon (I personally signed the decision to dismiss these 15 policemen after our investigation revealed that they planted drugs and firearms to make it appear that the Bulacan operation was legitimate),” said Eleazar.
The modus to which the 15 cops were found guilty of in administrative case is notoriously referred to as ‘nanlaban’, or the usual claim of the police that the reason why drug suspects die in police operation was that they trying to shoot it out with the police. The same modus was applied on the case of Kian delos Santos in 2017.
In a resolution, an investigating panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of six counts of murder and six counts of arbitrary detention against Police Staff Sergeants Benjie Enconado and Irwin Joy Yuson; Police Corporals Marlon Martus, Edmund Catubay Jr., Harvy Albino, and Herbert Hernandez; and Patrolman Rusco Madla.
Based on the investigation of the Internal Affairs Service, the six victims just happened to pass by the area where the policemen were conducting anti-illegal drugs operations on February 13 lastyear year when they were all arrested.
They were then brought to the police station where they were hogtied and detained but they were not booked for any offense.
The victims were then taken on February 18 to a secluded area in Barangay Gaya-Gaya in San Jose del Monte City where they were shot. The policemen, however, made it appear that they were drug personalities who died in a legitimate encounter by planting illegal drugs and firearms.
But the DOJ dropped the cases of murder and arbitrary detention on the eight other PNP personnel for lack of probable cause. They are Police Major Leo dela Rosa, Police Staff Sergeant Jayson Legaspi, Police Corporals Jay Marc Leoncio, Constante Escalante Jr., Raymond Bayan, Paul Malgapo, and Randy Camitoc; and, Patrolman Erwin Sabido.
But all of them were charged with grave offense for the incident in San Jose del Monte City for violations of Section 29, RA 9165 (Planting of illegal drugs) and Section 38, RA 10591 (Planting of firearms).
They were found guilty and were recommended for dismissal from the service. The IAS recommendation was reviewed by the Discipline, Law and Order Division of the Directorate for Personnel Records and Management which drafted the decision for approval of the Chief PNP.
PGen Eleazar signed the decision to dismiss all the 15 policemen in June this year.
The then chief of police of San Jose del Monte City, Police Lt. Col. Gil Domingo, was punished with six months suspension for command responsibility.