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Top cop, 22 others charged with murder

The National Bureau of Investigation has filed criminal charges before the Department of Justice against CALABARZON police regional director Brig. Gen. Edward Carranza and 22 other police officers of Rizal over the killing of Richard Santillan, aide of former Biliran congressman  and senatorial candidate Glenn Chong, in Cainta, Rizal in December last year.

In a 37-page referral-complaint submitted last Friday, the NBI filed charges of obstruction of justice against Carranza, Rizal provincial director Col. Lou Evangelista and Cainta police chief Lt. Col. Pablito Naganag.

After months of fact-finding investigation, the NBI also sought the indictment of seven officers from Cainta police station led by Lt. Sandro Ortega, four officers from provincial office of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group led by Capt. John Russel Barnacha and 10 operatives of Regional Special Operations Unit led by M/Sgt. Rene Eufracio for two counts of murder and one count of planting of evidence.

The NBI filed double murder charges against the policemen since Santillan’s companion Gessamyn Casing was also killed during the incident last Dec. 9 in Cainta.

Citing accounts of witnesses as well as results of its forensic examination, the NBI concluded that the incident was a rubout and not a shootout as claimed by the police.

The bureau stressed that Santillan and Casing were unarmed and that there was treachery in their killing—a key element of murder.

“Truth be told, [Santillan and Casing] were continuously fired upon by surrounding heavily armed police officers resulting in multiple gunshot wounds to the different parts of their bodies, which caused their deaths. Needless to say, [Santillan and Casing] were like sitting ducks overwhelmingly vulnerable to attack and clearly unable to protect their lives,” stated the NBI complaint signed by Deputy Director for Investigation Vicente De Guzman III.

Carranza and his men claimed that the incident was part of their legitimate police operations against the so-called “Highway Boys” involved in drug trade, carnapping, robbery and killings in Floodway in Cainta.

They said the operatives spotted the unregistered Toyota Fortuner that was supposedly being used by the syndicate in its operations, which at that time being was driven by Santillan.

Police said they tried to flag down the vehicle, but Santillan allegedly sped off, which led to the chase. They also claimed that he fired at the operatives, prompting them to retaliate and kill the occupants of the vehicle.

However,  the NBI explained that testimonial and physical pieces of evidence did not support the policemen’s narrative.

The bureau cited eyewitnesses who said they “did not see the occupants of the SUV fired any shot towards the police officers because the windows of the SUV were closed the entire time.”

One of the witnesses also heard a female voice from the vehicle begging “Hindi po ako, wala akong alam (Not me, I know nothing).”

Despite the plea, the witness said the operatives continued shooting the vehicle.

On the forensic findings, the NBI contested the report of PNP that Santillan tested positive for gunpowder to support their claim that he shot it out with the operatives.

“The forensic examination conducted on the clothes and the hands of the victims rendered negative results as to the presence of gunpowder nitrates,” the complaint said.

It was also found that Santillan only went to Cainta for his annual gift-giving activity for impoverished children.

With these findings, the NBI alleged that the police operatives involved in the operation conspired to kill the victims.

“The concerted acts of the above police officers, before, during and after the death of (Santillan and Casing), indubitably show causal relation, thus pointing to a joint purpose, a unity of action and a community of interest - to kill (Santillan and Casing).

As to the criminal liability of Carranza, the NBI alleged that he is liable for obstruction of justice “by disseminating false information in the Senate hearing, even purporting, under oath, that the said shooting incident was legitimate.”

Evangelista and Naganag, on the other hand, “committed the crime of obstruction of justice by fabricating information surrounding the shooting incident which led to the death of (Santillan and Casing),” according to the NBI complaint.

The bureau conducted fact-finding investigation on this case upon formal complaint filed by Santillan’s wife Jeanette last January. 

Chong lauded the NBI for its findings.

Chong is an election reform advocate who testified in congressional investigations on the alleged poll fraud during the 2016 elections and tagged Smartmatic in the cheating.

He even submitted to the President Electoral Tribunal earlier several evidence of fraud in support of the protest of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.                                                                       

Topics: National Bureau of Investigation , President Electoral Tribunal , Department of Justice , Edward Carranza
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