Panel of prosecutors formed to probe murder charges vs PNP personnel on prisoners’ deaths

Published July 6, 2022, 2:25 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, July 6, formed a panel of prosecutors to conduct the preliminary investigation on the murder complaints against Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel 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.

Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento said the preliminary investigation will be start immediately. He did not identify the panel members nor the actual date of the probe.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which filed the murder complaints before the DOJ, had 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 NBI-Death Investigation Division (NBI-DID) recommended 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.”

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.