The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Tuesday, July 5, identified the 22 Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel who were charged with multiple counts of murder before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the “suspicious” deaths of eight high-profile inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the NBI said those charged are members of the PNP’s National Capital Region Office (NCRPO) assigned at NBP.
The NBI identified the respondents as PMaj. Lymel John Hayahay Pasquin, PSSg. Rannel Tanjura Gadiano, PSSg. Christian Aragon Mercarsos, PCpl. Laurence Rallos Antiporta, PCpl. Jhunben Oca Alegado, PCpl. Jayson Lequin Anonuevo, PCpl. Rosanie Mujeres Bernales, PCpl. Michael Hellacone Boco, PCpl. Rolex Margaja Borgonia, PCpl. Jophy Tagmayon Buot, PCpl. Gilwen Basallo Garcia, PCpl. Edmar Ilustisimo Gerra, PCpl. Archie Auman Grapa, PCpl. Vernardo Vispo Into, PCpl. Ener Perez Restauro, PCpl. Banedy Taliporos Solante, PCpl. Jernie Mata Tiongzon, Jan Anthon Todulf Tabotabo Uy, Pat. Roland Butch Pelostratus Duran, Pat. James Gemetiza Aninapon, Pat. Rey Reponte Fernandez, and Dr. Beverly De Guzman.
It said: “The National Bureau of Investigation-Death Investigation Division (NBI-DID) recommended for the filing of eight (8) counts of Murder against NCRPO personnel before the Department of Justice on the suspicious death of high-profile Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs), namely, Francis Go, Shuli Lim Zhang, Jimmy Ang, Eugene Chua, Benajamin Marcelo, Sherwin Sanchez, Amin Boratong, and Willy Yang.”
It said the eight PDLs, who were initially thought to have died due to the Covid-19 disease, were “convicted of cases involving illegal drugs.”
“Subjects took advantage of the fact that victims were confined at Building 4, Site Harry, an NCRPO-managed isolation area, due to Covid-19 infection They availed the situation that in case of Covid-19 cases, cadavers should immediately be cremated. Cremation, for this case, was the final act to consummate and effectively cover-up the scheme to kill the victims,” the NBI said.
It said that during the probe, the investigators learned that “after the segregation and transfer to the ‘comfortable’ isolation room, victims died.”
“Witnesses had not observed any unusual situation of the PDLs while inside the isolation area, even when their rooms were only separated either by curtains or plywood,” the NBI said.
“The only irregular observation they made was their co-PDLs gradually disappeared from Building 4 after they had revealed that they were to be transferred to the ‘comfortable’ isolation room,” it said.
It pointed out that this is “inconsistent with the allegations of the NCRPO personnel who all purported that they administered nursing intervention and were all on-alert when the PDLs were on ‘emergency’ situation.”
“Significant amount of time elapsed before the victims were brought to the nearest hospital,” it added.
Though all eight dead inmates were declared dead on arrival due to either cardiac or pulmonary arrest, the NBI said “a close examination of the medical profile of the deceased high-profile PDLs generally revealed that days before they died, they exhibited neither chronic symptom of Covid-19, including difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, nor were they observed to be weak or particularly ill.”
“Witnesses had seen them to be well, normal, or lively,” it stressed.
The NBI-DID conducted the investigation pursuant to the 2020 order issued by then Justice Secretary and now Solicitor General Menardo I. Guevarra who instructed the bureau “to conduct investigation on the alleged death of Jaybee Sebastian, and eight other high-profile PDLs, who allegedly died of Covid-19 or its complications while isolated inside the facility of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, the control of which was under the members of the NCRPO security and medical teams.”
The NBI said its investigators found no indication of foul play in the death of Sebastian who was convicted of kidnap-for-ransom and carjacking.
“The circumstances surrounding the death of Jaybee Sebastian showed that he died of natural causes,” it NBI said.