TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Nine cops linked to the March 2021 killing of Calbayog Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and two of his aides have surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) following the issuance of arrest warrants against them.
The cops surrendered in Camp Crame on Tuesday, February 15, a day after Judge Cicero Lampasa of Regional Trial Court Branch 32 in Calbayog City issued their arrest warrants for murder and frustrated murder.
They are the following:
- Lieutenant Colonel Harry Villar Sucayre
- Major Shyrile Co Tan
- Captain Dino Laurente Goles
- Lieutenant Julio Salcedo Armeza Jr.
- Staff Sergeant Neil Matarum Cebu
- Staff Sergeant Edsel Tan Omega
- Patrolman Niño Cuadra Salem
- Corporal Julius Udtujan Garcia
- Randy Caones Merelos
Aquino, his police escort Rodeo Sario, and driver Dennis Abayon, were killed in what the PNP, then led by Debold Sinas, initially insisted as a “shootout” on March 8, 2021. One of Aquino’s aides survived the attack, while two on the police side, Captain Joselito Tabada and Police Staff Sergeant Romeo Lauyon, died.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NDI), however, disclosed during a Senate hearing a few months after the incident that the mayor was ambushed, based on evidence they gathered from 53 witnesses, including those who provided personal videos taken near the scene, and CCTV footage.
The NBI had said that based on data from the two phones belonging to members of the Sucayre’s team, which were found in the crime scene, “Mayor Aquino had been subjected to monitoring as early as October 2020.”
In December 2021, Sucayre, Tan, Omega, and Cebu were dismissed from service after the Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service (PNP IAS) said that that it found overwhelming evidence of administrative culpability in committing grave misconduct.
The Department of Justice indicted the cops in January.
The PNP had earlier filed counter-charges of murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder, and grave threats, against the late mayor’s son, Mark Aquino, as well as Police Corporal Ramil Rosales but these were later dismissed.
Aquino is the second mayor of Calbayog City to be murdered while in office in the span of a decade. Reynaldo Uy was also murdered in 2011 during his term as mayor.– Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler.com
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