DOJ sets filing criminal charges in court vs 7 law enforcers in 2021 QC ‘misencounter’

Published May 19, 2022, 10:25 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the filing of criminal charges in court against three Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents and four members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Feb. 24, 2021 “misencounter” in Quezon City where three law enforcers died.

In a statement, the DOJ said its panel of prosecutors issued a resolution last May 2 approving the filing of homicide charges against PDEA agents Khee Maricar Rodas, Jeffrey Baguidudol, and Jelou Satiniaman, and direct assault charges against policemen P/Maj. Sandie Caparroso, P/Lt. Honey Besas, P/SMsg. Melvin Merida, and P/Cpl. Paul Christian Gandeza.

“The respective informations (criminal charge sheets) against respondents will be filed at the proper courts in Quezon City,” the DOJ said.

It said the resolution was issued after the preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ panel of prosecutors on the complaints separately filed by the PDEA and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which conducted separate investigations over the incident.

The case stemmed from the Feb. 24, 2021 firefight between PDEA agents and policemen who were conducting separate anti-illegal drugs buy-bust operations along Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City.

The incident resulted in the deaths of PDEA agent Rankin Gano and policemen P/Cpl. Eric Elvin Garado and P/Cpl. Lauro De Guzman.

“After evaluation of the evidence, the Panel of Prosecutors found sufficient evidence to charge respondent PDEA agents Rodas, Baguidudol, and Santiniaman for Homicide for the death of P/Cpl. Garado. With respect to the injuries sustained by the PDEA responders, there are sufficient evidence identifying some police officers who actually hit, strike, and maul them. The affidavits of witnesses, and the admissions of respondents during the clarificatory hearing, identify P/Cpl. Gandeza, P/Lt. Besas, P/Maj. Caparroso (2 counts), P/SMsg. Merida as the assailants. Hence, there is probable cause to charge them for Direct Assault for the injuries sustained by the PDEA responders,” the DOJ said.

“However, with respect to the death of P/Cpl. De Guzman, the charge against PDEA agent Romero Asuncion is dismissed on the ground that the firearm and caliber used to shoot P/Cpl. De Guzman was never identified. Also, none of the evidence bullets or the spent cartridges found at the area (Zone E) matches agent Asuncion’s firearm. With respect to the death of Gano, the charge against P/Cpl. Alvin Borja is also dismissed. The Medico-Legal report and the Ballistics Examination by the NBI-FILD failed to identify the fatal shot at agent Gano. There is also no record showing that P/Cpl. Borja was the only one who actually shot at Gano,” it added.

It noted that the panel of prosecutors also dismissed the other complaints of attempted homicide, falsification of official document, robbery, conniving to or consenting to evasion, arbitrary detention, sedition, and violation of the Anti-Torture Act.