Tussle over Malayao’s effects gets political

Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya―A former police chief of Aritao town here claims relatives and associates of Randy Malayao had “politically harassed” him to surrender the personal effects and equipment of the slain National Democratic Front consultant.

Police Chief Inspector Geovanni Cejes said a certain Atty. Edu Balgos and his wife, Rina, have “threatened and intimidated me by telling me they will have me summoned to Congress for investigation” if he didn’t give them the personal effects, six cellphones and laptop computer of Malayao, who was murdered on Jan. 30 inside a bus.

“They [Balgos couple] are saying I am violating the human rights of Randy Malayao. How about my human rights too? Don’t I have any, that’s why this couple politically harassed me?” Cejes said in a press conference organized by Senior Supt. Richard Quilang of the Police Regional Office 2.

The police officer has already filed charges last Thursday against the Balgos couple and Perla Malayao Upano―Randy’s sister―for grave threats, grave coercion, and obstruction of justice at the provincial prosecutor’s office here.

Upano had managed to take Malayao’s equipment from police custody, then said her family was no longer interested in pursuing his brother’s case.

The Standard learned that Rina Balgos works unofficially as the executive assistant of Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Cuaresma, and is privy to all the legislator’s business in the House of Representatives and in the province.

Mrs. Balgos is frequently seen publicly with Cuaresma and sometimes acts on her behalf, although it is uncertain if this is on an official capacity.

Sources also told the Standard that Rep. Cuaresma had met with Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano and Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde because the Malayao family had refused to return the communist consultant’s effects to PNP PRO2.

The Standard could not reach Rep. Cuaresma’s office for comment at presstime.

According to Cejes, Rina “even ordered us to halt all our initial investigation on the said gadgets [of Malayao] and quizzed us as to why we had conducted investigations on them, and questioned all that have proceeded during its course.”

“I tried to explain to Rina Balgos that it was Standard Operational Procedure of the PNP and such was the scenario to hasten the investigation to find the killers and accomplices, and procure evidence to be used in the filing of charges in court because the victim is summarily executed,” the former police chief added.

According to police records, Rina Balgos presented herself at the Aritao Police Station as the Malayao family representative to get the slain NDF consultant’s things without the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) and forensic experts necessarily going over them first.

Cejes refused to release them to Rina Balgos. Afterward, Upano, also an engineer with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, arrived to get the victim’s gadgets too.

Cejes explained the motive of the initial investigation and police operational procedure to Upano, who agreed to let his brother’s items remain temporarily in police custody.

But Balgos, according to sources, confronted Upano, who later changed her mind.

Later, Edu Balgos, a legal consultant of Karapatan party-list and a candidate for the provincial board here, called Cejes and told him he had no legal jurisdiction whatsoever not to release Malayao’s possessions immediately, the policeman said.

“What right do you have to hold the victim’s items? That’s a violation of human rights! You don’t know what you’re doing!” Cejes quoted Atty. Balgos as saying.

The police officer explained to Balgos that Malayao’s equipment was “very essential” in solving his murder and that the victim’s possession remained with the police “because those gadgets affects and pertains to national security.”

Right after the release of Malayao’s items to Upano, PNP PRO2 Regional Director Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino appealed to Ano to have the things returned in the custody of PNP PRO2 for proper investigation by the SOCO, especially the hard drive of his laptop and the six mobile phones.

“We have lost thousands of valuable intelligence information about the CPP-NPA-NDF including their leaders led by Jose Maria Sison with the release of the laptop computer, cellphones, and other highly confidential pieces be found in the victims possession to his family,” said Espino.

“[Malayao’s relatives] could not tamper with them or else, we will be forced to file charges for obstruction of justice against them,” he added.

Meanwhile, PNP PRO2 created the Special Investigation Task Group Malayao (SITG) to expedite the identification and capture of the killers.

Topics: Randy Malayao , National Democratic Front , Geovanni Cejes , Luisa Cuaresma
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