Homicide charges set over Taiwan fisherman’s death

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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The Department of Justice says 8 Philippine Coast Guard personnel engaged in a conspiracy to kill a Taiwanese

INSPECTING PCG BOAT. Filipino and Taiwanese investigators inspect the MCS-3001 vessel involved in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman in South Harbor, Manila, Philippines on May 28, 2013. File photo by Susan Corpuz/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday, March 18, announced it will file homicide charges against 8 Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel over a Taiwanese fisherman’s death.

In a statement, the DOJ said the National Prosecution Service (NPS) found probable cause on Monday, March 17, to charge the following for homicide over the so-called Balintang incident in 2013:

  • Commanding Officer Arnold Enriquez dela Cruz;

  • Seaman 1st Class Edrando Quiapo Aguila;

  • Seaman 1st Class Mhelvin Aguilar Bendo II;

  • Seaman 1st Class Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo;

  • Seaman 1st Class Sunny Galang Masangcay;

  • Seaman 1st Class Henry Baco Solomon;

  • Seaman 2nd Class Nicky Renold Aurello; and

  • Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz

The panel of NPS prosecutors found, among others, that “the respondents all acted in unison with the common purpose of firing at the Guang Da Xing No. 28 to force it to submit to MCS-3001’s inspection or else.”

Guang Da Xing No. 28 is the Taiwanese fishing boat involved, while MCS-3001 is the PCG vessel.

DOJ sees conspiracy

The panel also said “conspiracy was established” by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) “when it presented the fact that orders were given and the orders were obeyed and efficiently implemented with fatal consequences.”

“That they all acted with that common purpose is crystal clear. When there is conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all,” the DOJ said.

In its statement, the agency added the panel “also found probable cause” to charge Dela Cruz and Bendo for obstruction of justice. This charge is for allegedly preparing and submitting a “falsified” monthly gunner report dated May 11, 2013. 

The DOJ will file the homicide charges with the Batanes Regional Trial Court, and the obstruction of justice charges before the Cagayan Municipal Trial Court.

This move will come 7 months after the NBI recommended homicide charges against the PCG personnel over the shooting incident at the Balintang Channel on May 9, 2013.

The Balintang incident strained relations between the Philippines and Taiwan, and left up to 16,000 Filipinos temporarily jobless in 2013. (READ: Standing firm against Taiwan’s strong-arm tacticsRappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com