GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Aug) – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed murder charges against four policemen here in connection with the killing last month of a criminology student whom policemen believed stole a motorcycle.
Lawyer Regner Peneza, agent in-charge of the NBI Sarangani district office, said Monday they filed the murder complaint before the city prosecutor’s office last Friday afternoon against PO2 Arnold Sua, PO2 Ariel Beldera, PO1 Rudyard Dequito and PO1 John Rey Daligdig.
He said the complaint was based on the results of their investigation and accounts from several witnesses that identified the accused policemen as directly behind the death of student Randy Quirante in a police pursuit operation last July 10.
“We filed the complaint (on behalf of the victim’s family). (We’ll just) followup with the prosecutor’s office for further developments on the case,” he said on the phone.
The 18-year-old Quirante, who a criminology student of the Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges (RMMC) here, and a classmate were on their way home to Barangay Spring in nearby Alabel, Sarangani province early evening on July 10 when the incident happened.
Citing a statement issued by the victim’s companion identified as John Rey Lapuz, Peneza said the two were driving along the national highway in Barangay Baluan aboard separate motorcycles when they were stopped by a mobile patrol team of police station number 03.
He said the patrol team has set up a choke point in the area in response to a report filed by a resident identified as Karen Nentenza regarding her stolen motorcycle in Barangay Lagao.
Peneza said the patrol team, along with the complaint, initially spotted the two students and suspected that one of them was driving Nentenza’s stolen motorcycle.
“So they (policemen) drove past the two, stopped ahead and set up a choke point,” he said.
When the two students were passing by the choke point, he said they were flagged down by the policemen but Quirante refused to stop and sped away since he was only carrying a student driver’s permit then.
While Quirante was driving away, Peneza said the policemen fired some shots and one of which hit the victim on the back.
“(Quirante) was able to drive for around 300 meters until he collapsed on the sidewalk. His friend later found him and brought him to the hospital,” he said in a separate radio interview.
Peneza said the patrol team followed Quirante but drove past the latter without making any verification or checking his condition.
The patrol team later decided to help bring the victim to the hospital but it turned out too late as the latter already lost some blood and died on the way, he said.
“The victim’s gunshot wound was actually not fatal and he could have survived if he was given immediate help and medical attention,” the official said.
Peneza said the four policemen yielded positive of powder nitrate during the paraffin tests conducted by the city police office.
But he said it appeared in their investigation that PO2 Sua delivered the fatal shot on Quirante using his 9 mm handgun.
He said Sua also tested positive of metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu based on an earlier drug test conducted on the four policemen by the city police.
Peneza said Sua is facing a separate charge for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act in connection with the drug test results.
During their investigation, the official said they also found out that another policeman identified as PO1 Alberto Alberto had joined the operation along with the four policemen.
He said Alberto, who has turned witness against the accused policemen, was not named in the incident report earlier released by police station number 03.
“PO1 Alberto was not carrying any firearm during the operation since he has not been issued with one yet. But he was with the group all along and was the one who raised initial doubts on Quirante as a carnapping suspect,” Peneza said.
Chief Supt. Charles Calima Jr., Region 12 police director, immediately ordered an investigation into the withholding of the information regarding the presence of PO1 Alberto during the operation based on the incident report.
The official said they will look into the possible liability and lapses committed by officials of the police station, specifically station chief Senior Insp. Jordan Santiago.
City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr. censured the city police office over the “misleading” incident report and called it a “big shame” for them.
“They should explain it to the people, to the SP (Sangguniang Panlungsod) and to the mayor,” he said.
Gacal, who is chair of the city council’s committee on public order and safety, earlier extended assistance to the victim’s family and has been personally monitoring the progress of the case. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)