TACLOBAN, Philippines – Nine dismissed cops charged with the March 8, 2021 ambush of Calbayog Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and three other men were released on Friday, March 17, after the Calbiga, Samar Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted their bail petition.
Rappler on Saturday, March 18, got hold of the order ealier signed by Judge Janet Cabalona of the Calbiga RTC Branch 33. Captain Liberato Yorpo of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Tacloban received the order.
The nine dismissed cops are Harry Villar Sucayre, Shyrile Co Tan, Dino Laurente Goles, Julio Armeza Jr., Neil Matarum Cebu, Edsel Tan Omega, Niño Cuadra Salem, Julius Udtujan Garcia.
Private prosecutor Alma Uy said she and the families of the victims were shocked because they had not been informed of a newly assigned judge after Judge Maricar Lucero of RTC Branch 31 inhibited from the case on March 9.
Lucero approved on March 7 the bail petition of the dismissed cops, who are charged with killing Aquino, his driver Dennis Abayon, security aide Master Sergeant Rodeo Sario, and city hall employee and bystander Klint John Paul Yauder.
The accused were allowed to post bail for P120,000 each during the pendency of their trial.
Uy said she filed a motion for reconsideration against Lucero’s decision on the same day it came out. It was still unresolved, the lawyer said.
On March 17, apparently still in the dark about Cabalona’s order, Uy told Rappler: “The murder cases against nine policemen seem to be at a standstill because of the inhibition of the judge. The Office of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court is still to designate a judge who will handle these cases.”
The families of Aquino and the other victims have appealed to the Marcos Jr. administration to ensure a speedy trial.
Lina Aquino, the mayor’s widow, said her family was pinning their hopes on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. in their quest for justice.
Yauder’s father Conrado said he and his family were losing their trust in the justice system, and Marcos was in the position to reverse that. – Rappler.com
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