crimes in the Philippines

4 cops in Quezon found guilty in 2018 attempted murder of pedicab driver

Darcie de Galicia

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4 cops in Quezon found guilty in 2018 attempted murder of pedicab driver

SURVIVOR. Roger Herrero survived a murder try, wrote down his account as his wounds bled, won an acquittal on the robbery charges filed by Quezon province cops, then filed frustrated charges against them. On April 25, 2023, Judge Michael Vito of the Gumaca Regional Trial Court found four cops guilty of the attempted murder of Herrero.

Vincent Go

Roger Herrero survived a slay try by lawmen on November 1, 2018, won an acquittal for robbery charges, and filed a frustrated murder complaint that ended on April 25, 2023 with four cops found guilty for attempted murder

QUEZON, Philippines – Judge Michael Vito of the Regional Trial Court of Gumaca Branch 172 on Tuesday, April 25, sentenced four Quezon province cops from five years and eight months to ten years of imprisonment for the attempted murder on November 1, 2018 of pedicab driver Roger Herrero Jr.

Prosecutors had originally filed a frustrated murder case against Police Officer 2 Jhaymar Espedido, Senior Police Officer 4 Wilson Villegas, Senior Police Officer 3 Noel Malabayabas, and Senior Police Officer 2 Bryan Nobo, then assigned to the Agdangan Municipal Police Station. (Editor’s note: These ranks are based on the old classification of the Philippine National Police.)

The judge, however, found them guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the lesser charge of attempted murder. He also ordered the policemen to pay P1.7 million in damages.

The proceedings were carried out utilizing video conferencing technology. Both defendants and the victim participated remotely.

Herrero’s ordeal happened at the height of then-president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war against suspected drug pushers and an all-around brutal law and order campaign. 

The accused cops, then-Agdangan police Chief Inspector Wilson Mansion, and the public information officer of the Quezon Provincial Police Office, claimed the operation was legitimate.

The policemen said they were responding to a distress call by a certain Rommel Supilinas, who claimed Herrero robbed him at gunpoint.

Cops said that when they found the suspect, Herrero, he fired a gun at them. He then allegedly fled towards some bushes, and engaged the lawmen in a firefight.

Left for dead

But Herrero lived to tell his story.

The judge’s ruling called Herrero a credible witness, who proved the police had intended to kill him even when he was helpless and in their custody.

“His responses to the direct and cross examination are spontaneous and are consistent with his earlier written statements,” Judge Vito said.

“More importantly, his testimony is corroborated by equally convincing and trustworthy evidence,” he added.

“The intent to kill and the presence of qualifying circumstance of treachery are manifest,” stressed the ruling.

While only Espedido pulled the trigger, Villegas, Malabayabas and Nobo are equally liable because the existence of conspiracy is also duly established, the judge pointed out.

The judge explained the downgrading of the conviction to attempted murder by noting that in frustrated murder, culprits must have performed all acts of execution.

“In the frustrated felony, non-accomplishment of the crime is some cause independent of the will of the perpetrator while in the attempted felony, the reason for non-fulfillment of a crime is a cause or accident other than the offender’s spontaneous desistance,” said the judge.

Grit, testimony

Left for dead in Atimonan town with a wound in his head, Herrero regained consciousness.

Herrero managed to walked to a group of men. They helped bring him to the Dona Marta Hospital.

There, even as he bled, thinking he would die, Herrero managed to write down his experience in front of a nurse.

Later, he also answered in writing the questions of Atimonan police investigator, Police Master Sergeant Joseph Ramirez.

Ramirez went to the hospital at 11:55 in the evening.

Herrero said a friend, Franklin Pareja, had asked to meet. They proceeded to Barangay Laboy, where a vehicle blocked their path. Pareja ran away, but the cops got Herrero.

Herrero recognized the police from his hometown. 

He also heard one of them refer to another person with the name “Sir Espidido.”

The pedicab driver denied accusations of being a thief. As they pressured him to confess, Malabayabas held him in the head and punched him in the head, while uttering, “Ang tapang mo, ayaw mong aminin, papatayin ka na namin.” (You’re cocky, you don’t want to admit it; we’re going to kill you.)

Cops then brought him to a grassy field in Atimonan. Villegas gave a gun to Espedido, who told Herrero to start praying.

The pedicab driver said he begged to be spared for the sake of his four young children, to no avail.

The NBI report said Herrero was “shot in the head close range.”


Herrero was also lucky that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) stepped in quickly within a few days to probe his claims.

NBI probers told the court that residents of Barangay Binagbag, where the alleged gunfight happened, said: “No firefight occurred in their area, much less heard gunshots on the night of November 1.”

Photojournalists also stepped in to help the pedicab driver.

Collectively called the Night Crawlers, Ezra Acayan, Vincent Go, Raffy Lerma and Redemptorist Brother Ciriaco Santiago Jr. would go beyond the call of duty to help the pedicab driver.

Go would testify during the hearing on the photo he took, which formed part of the evidence indicating it was a close-range shooting.

Acayan successfully raised P300,000 overnight – more than enough to underwrite an operation to implant a titanium jaw in Herrero’s shattered face.

He was first transferred to the Quezon Memorial Medical Center and then to the De La Salle University Medical Center in Dasmarinas, Cavite. There, he underwent three operations to remove the bullet wedged in his jaw and install a tube to help him breathe.

Herrero’s notes, including the initial ones written in front of a nurse, were submitted to the court as evidence.

He used the word “salvaging” – a word that is a throwback to the martial law years of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, whose only son and namesake is now President of the Philippines.

Twists and turns

Herrero stayed for months in the hospital.

He was still in the hospital when police then filed charges of robbery against him. He was briefly in jail but posted bail.

Defended by lawyers of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), he was acquitted before the pandemic.

He then filed charges of frustrated murder against the police. –

Drug war widow: Why is Duterte still free, when our loved ones are dead?

Drug war widow: Why is Duterte still free, when our loved ones are dead?

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