Trial of Coast Guard men over Taiwanese death starts Nov 24
MANILA, Philippines – The trial will commence finally. A Batanes court has set November 24 for the start of the trial of 8 Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel accused of killing a Taiwanese fisherman in May 2013.
Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera told reporters on Monday, November 17, that Batanes Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 13 Presiding Judge Ramon Barona has set the trial of the homicide case on November 24.
The date of the trial was set right after Judge Barona dismissed all of the motions filed by the accused to quash the case against them, clearing all legal impediments to starting the trial of the homicide case.
Navera said the pending petition of the PCG personnel before the Supreme Court (SC), seeking the transfer of their trial from Batanes to Manila, cannot be used as a basis to suspend proceedings on the homicide case.
"There is no SC order yet on the [petition to] transfer, but a pending petition to transfer venue does not suspend proceedings," the prosecutor said.
Homicide charges were filed against the following PGC personnel after the National Prosecution Service (NPS) found probable cause in March to charge the following for homicide over the so-called Balintang incident in on May 9, 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 NPS prosecutors found 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.
The filing of the homicide charges came months after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) released the results of its probe into the case and recommended the filing of case against the PCG personnel.
Out of the 8 accused, only Aguila is set to be arraigned during the November 24 hearing.
The Balintang Channel incident strained relations between the Philippines and Taiwan, and threatened the employement up to 16,000 Filipinos in Taiwan. – Rappler.com