The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of former police captain Reynaldo Jaylo and two others for the death of two Army officials and a civilian during a drug bust in Makati City in July 1990.
In a 15-page decision, the SC’s First Division through Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno sustained the April 17, 2007 decision of the Sandiganbayan finding Jaylo and Privates 1st Class William Valenzona and Antonio Habalo Jr. guilty of homicide, and the May 26, 2008 resolution denying their motion for reconsideration.
The Court dismissed their petition assailing the anti-graft court’s verdict for the killing of Army Col. Rolando de Guzman, Maj. Franco Calanog and civilian Avelino Nepomuceno.
The SC ruled that the appeal was denied because the defendants failed to attend the court’s promulgation when the verdict was rendered, despite official summons as provided in Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court.
The Sandiganbayan’s First Division had sentenced Jaylo, Valenzona and Habalo to imprisonment of up to 14 years and ordered them to pay P50,000 to the heirs of each of their victims.
The case against another accused, patrolman Edgardo Castro, was dismissed after he died before the verdict became final and executory.
In their appeal, Jaylo, Valenzona and Habalo said they were denied their “substantive rights” when the court convicted them even in their absence.
But the Sandiganbayan said the notices were individually sent to the defendants and their counsel, the late former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez.
The case arose from a planned drug bust in the evening of July 10, 1990 involving the National Bureau of Investigation, Western Police District and agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.
The lawmen were supposed to buy 10 kilograms of heroin from De Guzman and his colleagues before making an arrest.
But De Guzman and his companions allegedly resisted arrest and shot the lawmen who returned fire.
The defendants were originally charged with murder, but the court reduced this and convicted them of homicide citing the absence of evidence to support allegations of “treachery, premeditation and use of superior strength.”