Balintang incident: Coast guards ask DOJ to reverse indictment
MANILA, Philippines – Eight Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel charged with homicide over a Taiwanese fisherman's death want the justice department to reverse its finding of probable cause against them.
In a motion for partial reconsideration submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday, April 10, the PCG personnel asked the prosecution panel that recommended the filing of homicide and obstruction of justice charges against them to "reconsider, review and reverse" the indictment. (READ: 8 PH coast guards charged for Taiwanese fisherman's death)
Homicide charges were filed on March 27 at the Batanes Regional Trial Court over the May 2013 death of Taiwanese national Huang Shih-Cheng against the following:
- 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
- Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz
Obstruction of justice charges were also filed against Dela Cruz and Bendo before the Cagayan Municipal Trial Court for allegedly preparing and submitting a “falsified” monthly gunnery report related to the incident.
In asking for the reversal of the indictment, the 8 PCG personnel charged of homicide argued that their actions were done in self-defense and were "consistent with the regular performance of their legal duty."
They also argued that the death of Huang Shih-Cheng is yet to be established, as the executive report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) "failed to produce a death certificate."
"Dr. Ruperto J. Sombillon Jr., the NBI Medico Legal Officer, admitted in his 09 September 2013 Affidavit that he never saw Cheng's remains, and did not conduct an autopsy on the latter, such that Dr. Sombillon has no personal knowledge that Cheng is actually dead," their motion read.
Dela Cruz and Bendo, on the other hand, argued that the obstruction of justice charges against them must be dismissed for lack of probable cause as "there was no intent to mislead" on their part when they made the monthly gunnery report.
The Taiwanese fisherman's death – dubbed as the Balintang incident – created a rift between the Philippines and Taiwan. Over 16,000 Filipinos working in Taiwan were temporarily jobless after Shih-Cheng's death. (READ: Standing firm against Taiwan's strong-arm tactics) – Rappler.com