Ombudsman junks murder complaint vs. QC cops in 'nanlaban' case

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 27) — The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the murder complaint filed against Quezon City police officers in connection with the killing of three men in an anti-drug operation in August 2016 after supposedly resisting arrest.

Mariza Hamoy, mother of Darwin Hamoy, among the fatalities during the said drug bust in Barangay Payatas, earlier appealed the Ombudsman's decision dated July 2018 to junk the charge against several members of the anti-drug unit of Batasan over their alleged liability for the death of her son and two other companions, Cherwin Polo and William Bordeos. The Ombudsman, in a resolution, a copy of which was obtained by CNN Philippines on Saturday, junked the motion for reconsideration, saying that "no compelling justification exists either to reverse or modify the Office's findings."

Exonerated were police officers Carlo Olape Sabella, Marvin Agdon Merida, Rhodolf Makie, Jun Ralph Pinero, Ronnie Bangat, Dennis Pal, Richard Timon, Edilberto Vargas, Nonilon Laberon, Michael Maderable, Amirudin Ibrahim, Albert Pombo, Andy Adalawan, Charles Molino, Herbert Angoluan, and Wilson Escuro. They were all members of the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs or SAID Task Force of the Batasan Police Station.

Hamoy, Katrina Polo (Cherwin's wife), and Marilyn Bordeos (William's aunt), in late 2017, filed a complaint against the 16 Batasan policemen for alleged human rights violations before the Commission on Human Rights’ National Capital Region office. The commission then referred the case to the Ombudsman. Hamoy, Katrina Polo, and Marilyn Bordeos all executed a sworn statement, saying the suspects were "arbitrarily killed," the Ombudsman said. But Katrina and Marilyn later withdrew their complaints against the respondents, it added.

Katrina Polo earlier said in a sworn statement her husband was already asleep while his companions were having drinks when several armed policemen forcibly entered their home at around 11 p.m. on August 14, 2016, and they proceeded to the second floor. Then she said she heard gunshots from the ground floor. She asked the police officers not to shoot because her kids were at home and told them to just arrest those they need to arrest. A man then told her and her kids to leave the house, but she refused to do so at first. Because they insisted on staying home, her child Erinne claimed they have been dragged out. They fled to the house of a family friend and returned at 4 a.m. the next day and saw lots of blood inside, and her father was nowhere to be found. They later found out that he had died at the East Avenue Medical Center.

For their part, the law enforcers who conducted the raid claimed they were on a legitimate operation at the time. They said the suspects shot at them, prompting them to fire back. They added they recovered several firearms and an undetermined amount of shabu in Cherwin Polo's home.

Hamoy argued that Arevalo's acquittal "strongly indicates that his son, Polo, and Bordeos did not attack, resist or employ force during the buy-bust operation," the Ombudsman quoted the complainant as saying. She added the Ombudsman should also give weight to her sworn statements as well as the testimonies of Katrina and Marilyn.

But the Ombudsman said since the complainant and the relatives of Polo and Bordeos did not witness the incident, "their statements cannot be considered for purposes of determining probable cause against [the] respondents."

This case is considered as one of the earliest 'nanlaban' cases associated with the Duterte administration's bloody war on drugs, which left thousands dead.