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Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. has approved administrative charges against former Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief Brigadier General Jesus Durante III and six of his subordinates in connection to the 2022 murder of Davao-based model and businesswoman Yvonette Chua-Plaza.
Durante and one of his subordinates, Colonel Michael Licyayo, were sent to the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) headquarters in Davao City for detention on Monday, April 17, showed a statement released by Army public affairs chief Colonel Xerxes Trinidad.
Durante was previously the commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade based in Davao de Oro province, and Licyayo served as his deputy commander.
Trinidad said the Philippine Army’s decision to send the two military officials to Davao came after the review of the administrative aspect of the case against them and five other soldiers.
The charges were in relation to their alleged involvement in the Chua-Plaza murder case on December 29, 2022, outside her residence in Davao City.
Their administrative case was referred to the General Court Martial, chaired by Court president Major General Jose Eriel Niembra, also the current commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.
Durante and the other soldiers were charged with violating Article of War 96, which refers to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, and Article of War 97, which refers to all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline and all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the military service.
Trinidad said the administrative military proceedings would begin anytime this week.
“The Philippine Army will uphold the highest form of discipline among its personnel in the performance of its mandate of serving the people and securing the land. The Army does not tolerate wrongdoings and criminal acts of any soldier, be they officers or enlisted personnel,” read part of the Army statement.
In January, the police filed a criminal complaint against the suspects less than a month after Chua-Plaza was killed, and identified Durante as the alleged mastermind.
Police alleged that Durante had an affair with Chua-Plaza, paid for her home and that the victim had “sensitive information” that she used to blackmail the former PSG chief.
Aside from Durante and Licyayo, police also filed a complaint against the following soldiers:
- Staff Sergeant Gilbert Plaza
- Sergeant Delfin Sialsa Jr.
- Corporal Adrian Cachero
- Private 1st class Rolly Cabal
- Private 1st class Romart Longakit
A civilian and military man Friday, identified as Noel H. Japitan, was also tagged as an alleged accomplice.
The police filed the complaint against Durante and the other suspects less than a month after Chua-Plaza’s murder outside her Green Meadows subdivision home in Davao City’s Tugbok District.
Authorities said they received help from an Army board of inquiry that got suspects to confess, and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which extracted electronic evidence.
The alleged triggerman, Sergeant Delfin Sialsa Jr., revealed in his extra-judicial confession that Durante’s close aide, Colonel Licyayo, ordered the burning of Plaza’s belongings after the murder.
Davao region’s police director, Brigadier General Benjamin Silo Jr., told a news conference in January that the criminal case against Durante and the other suspects was tight, and that the “clarity of circumstance” and extra-judicial confessions “interlocked.” – Rappler.com