Philippine National Police

Eleazar vows no cover-up in Calbayog mayor Aquino slay

Ryan Macasero
Eleazar vows no cover-up in Calbayog mayor Aquino slay

The van of slain Calbayog, Samar Mayor Ronaldo Aquino. Photo by Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler

Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler

The Samar cops who have been implicated in the case are now under the restrictive custody of Police Regional Office 8, says PNP chief General Guillermo Eleazar

Philippine National Police chief General Guillermo Eleazar on Friday, June 11, vowed that there will be no cover-up in the slay of Calbayog mayor Ronaldo Aquino and his two aides, after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed murder and frustrated complaints against several Samar cops in connection with the case.

Haharapin nila ang kasong isinampa sa kanila. Sinisiguro ko po sa inyo na hindi pagtatakpan ng PNP ang mga pulis na umano’y sangkot sa pagpaslang kay Mayor Aquino,” Eleazar said in a statement.

(They will face the cases filed against them. I assure you that the PNP will not shield the cops who are allegedly involved in the murder of Mayor Aquino.)

“I also directed the Regional Director, Police Regional Office 8 and Director, Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (IMEG) to place implicated PNP personnel under their restrictive custody,” Eleazar added.

The NBI on Thursday, June 10, filed murder and frustrated murder complaints before the Department of Justice against Lieutenant Colonel Harry Sucayre, Major Shyrille Tan, Captain Dino Goles, Lieutenant Julio Salcedo Armeza Jr., Staff Sergeant Niel Cebu, Staff Sergeant Edsel Omega, Patrolman Niño Salem, Julius Garcia, and Randy Merelos.

The NBI had concluded that the attack on Aquino in March – which also led to the death of his driver Dennis Abayon and police escort Staff Sergeant Rodeo Sario – was an ambush that was months in the making, and not a shootout as claimed by the PNP.

“This was not just a chance encounter, but a premeditated one,” Antonio Pagatpat, NBI Deputy Director for Regional Services,  told the media on Thursday. 

NBI Eastern Visayas chief Jerry Abiera presented their findings before the Senate committee on public services and dangerous drugs during a hearing on Aquino’s death on Wednesday, June 9. He also announced at the time that they would file criminal and administrative complaints against the cops.

The NBI investigation is based on the affidavits of 53 witnesses, personal videos taken by witnesses, CCTV footage, as well as information from cell phones that were recovered from the crime scene. Data from one of the phones revealed Aquino had been subjected to monitoring as early as October 2020, and that he had been falsely implicated in the illegal drug trade.

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NBI: Calbayog mayor Aquino killed in ambush, not shootout

NBI: Calbayog mayor Aquino killed in ambush, not shootout

Aquino is the second mayor of Calbayog City to be killed in the past decade. Then-Calbayog mayor Reynaldo Uy was killed in 2011.

The PNP has concluded that the incident was a shootout, as Aquino’s group supposedly fired at police first, based on the testimonies of those who survived the encounter on the police side. Two policemen died during the incident: Police Captain Joselito Tabada of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit, and Police Staff Sergeant Romeo Laoyon.

The PNP filed murder and frustrated murder complaints against the mayor’s son Ronald Mark Aquino, Police Corporal Ramil Rosales, and John Does before the City Prosecutors’ Office in Calbayog City on April 8. The PNP also filed grave threat complaints against Mark.

The PNP filed homicide and frustrated homicide complaints against police officers Sucayre, Tan, and Armeza on April 16. – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.