Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors have approved the filing of murder and frustrated murder charges in court against nine policemen for the killings of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo P. Aquino and three other persons on March 8, 2021.
“The criminal informations (charge sheets) for four (4) counts of murder and one (1) count of frustrated murder will be filed before the Regional Trial Court of Calbayog City,” the DOJ said in a statement issued on Thursday, Jan. 20.
The DOJ identified those to be charged as PLtCoL. Harry Villar Sucayre, team leader of the Philippine National Police–Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP–IMEG); PMaj. Shyrile Co Tan; PCapt. Dino Laurente Goles; PLt. Julio Salcedo Armeza, Jr.; PSSg. Neil Matarum Cebu; PSSg. Edsel Tan Omega; Pat. Niño Cuadra Salem; PCpl. Julius Udtujan Garcia; and PSSg. Randy Caones Merelos.
It said a panel of prosecutors approved the filing of charges in a resolution dated Dec. 15, 2021 and released Jan. 19 after preliminary investigations conducted on the consolidated complaints filed against the nine policemen.
“In the decision to file charges for murder and frustrated murder against the respondents-PNP personnel, the Panel determined that the defenses of denial, alibi and self-defense, interposed by the respondents-PNP personnel, cannot be given weight in light of the positive assertions of the witnesses and the pieces of evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation,” the DOJ said.
Aquino and his companions were on board a Toyota Super Grandia Hi-Ace van when they were ambushed at around 4:45 p.m. on March 8, 2021 along Labuyao Bridge in Barangay Lonoy, Calbayog City.
“PSSg. Rodeo B. Sario (security escort) and Dennis Abayon (driver), were killed, while another aide, Mansfield F. Labonite (personal security aide), survived due to his timely rescue and medical attention,” the DOJ noted.
“A civilian, Clint John Paul Yauder (passerby), who was caught in the shooting, was likewise killed while his vehicle was passing by the area,” it added.