crimes in the Philippines

After court verdict, 5 cops in Jemboy Baltazar killing released from detention

Jairo Bolledo

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After court verdict, 5 cops in Jemboy Baltazar killing released from detention

FREED. In this photo, the six cops involved in the killing of 17-year old Jemboy Baltazar leave the Navotas Regional Trial Court after the promulgation of the case on February 27, 2024.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Police Staff Sergeant Gerry Maliban, the cop convicted of homicide, will be transferred to the custody of BuCor, says the BJMP

MANILA, Philippines – The five police officers and personnel tagged in the killing of 17-year-old Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar have already walked free from detention, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said.

BJMP spokesperson Jail Chief Inspector Jayrex Bustinera confirmed to Rappler on Friday, March 1, that the police officers and personnel – Staff Sergeant Antonio Bugayong Jr., Staff Sergeant Niko Pines Esquilon, Executive Master Sergeant Roberto Balais Jr., Corporal Edmard Jake Blanco, Patrolman Benedict Mangada – have been released from detention. They left Metro Manila District Jail Annex 2 in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City at 5:30 pm on Tuesday – the same day the Navotas City court handed down its verdict.

After court verdict, 5 cops in Jemboy Baltazar killing released from detention

The five cops were released after they received lighter penalties. Bugayong was acquitted in the murder case, while Esquilon, Balais Jr., Blanco, and Mangada were convicted of illegal discharge of firearm and were only sentenced to four months in prison.

Since the court allowed the four’s preventive imprisonment to be credited as sentence, they were ordered released. The cops have been detained since October last year after they surrendered to the police.

Meanwhile, since Police Staff Sergeant Gerry Maliban was convicted of homicide and was sentenced to four to six years in prison, Bustinera told Rappler that the cop will be transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections.

A victim of mistaken identity, Baltazar was killed in a police operation in Navotas City on August 2, 2023. The pursing cops said they had mistaken the teen-aged Baltazar as the shooting incident suspect who was said to be in the area.

He and his friend were cleaning a boat in Navotas City when the police team rained gunshots at them. Baltazar died of brain injuries due to a gunshot wound in the head, with drowning as a contributing factor. After he was shot, Baltazar fell into the river where his body remained submerged for around three hours before it was retrieved by his uncle.

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His death reignited anger and condemnation against the police, and dubbed him as the second Kian delos Santos. Delos Santos was the biggest case of police brutality in the country under former president Rodrigo Duterte’s administration as he was also killed by cops. But unlike in Baltazar’s case, the cops in Delos Santos killing – Arnel Oares, Jeremias Pereda, and Jerwin Cruz – were convicted of murder and were sentenced to up to 40 years of imprisonment.

The Baltazar family were disappointed with the ruling after hoping the cops would be convicted of murder. Rodaliza, the teen’s mother, was emotional after the ruling and said Maliban will only be jailed for years, but her son is gone forever.

Meanwhile, Department of Justice spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said they will appeal the court’s ruling to the Court of Appeals, adding that they will tap the Office of the Solicitor General to represent the government in the appeal. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.