DOJ indicts 3 Siargao cops in Spaniard's death

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the filing of murder and planting of evidence charges against three police officers tagged in the death of a Spanish national in Siargao Island two years ago.

In a statement Friday, the DOJ said the Office of the Prosecutor General, in a resolution dated February 9, charged Capt. Wise Vicente Panuelos, Staff Sgt. Ronel Pazo, and Staff Sgt. Nido Boy Cortes with murder and planting of evidence for the death of Spaniard Diego Lafuente.

“The information for murder and planting of evidence will be filed at the Regional Trial Court, 13th Judicial Region, Surigao del Norte,” Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said.

The Spanish Embassy in Manila has pursued Lafuente's case with DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra last October asking the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the case.

Police officers claimed Lafuente, a resident of the island, is a key drug personality in the area who shot it out with law enforcers during a buy-bust on Jan. 8, 2020.

A Para-Ordnance pistol cal. 45 and 8.33 grams of cocaine were recovered from the area.

The NBI's evaluation of the evidence and the Panel of Prosecutors analysis of the scene of the crime operations (SOCO) report found that there is sufficient ground to charge respondents under the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act of 2013.

"Although there were no eyewitnesses in the killing of Diego Lafuente, the recommendations of the panel of prosecutors were based on the SOCO report and forensic results that disproved the claim of respondents of a shootout," the DOJ said.

It said the physical evidence shows the placement of the spent cartridge cases from the service firearms of Panuelos and Cortes and the cartridges from the alleged firearm of Lafuente were near each other.

"If indeed there was a shootout, the placement of the FCCs (fired cartridge cases) should be on opposite sides. Moreover, the investigation shows that after Diego Lafuente jumped over the perimeter wall, he was shot by PSSgt. Cortes, as evidenced by a 9mm FCC, was found underneath the ground located near the area where Diego Lafuente was lying. The crossmatching examination revealed that the 9mm FCC matched with and was fired from the firearm of PSSgt. Cortes," it added.

Perjury charges against the officers were dismissed because of the alleged inconsistencies in their affidavits, which had not shown to be “false and made with willful and deliberate assertions of falsehood.” (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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