KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 27 April) – The local court here has declared “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” three former police officers and three self-confessed killers for the murder 12 years ago of a wealthy Filipino-Chinese businessman.
Convicted were gun-for-hire Reynaldo Camus, Roland Gabais, and Ramil Silonga for the killing of hardware store owner Roger Ong on March 9, 2006.
The court also considered former SPO1 Rene Mamburam, SPO1 Ignacio Rinsulat, and PO3 Edwin Pacana, all former members of the Kidapawan City PNP, as “principal accused” in Ong’s murder and declared them guilty as well. The former policemen would all suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua or lifetime imprisonment, the court said.
The court’s promulgation over Criminal Case Number 483-2006 was penned by Judge Arvin Sadiri Balagot of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 17 in an emotion-filled hearing on Friday.
Two of the former police officers, Mamburam and Rinsulat, were granted bail amounting to half a million pesos in 2010. The court at that time could not sustain the findings that there was a conspiracy in killing Ong in 2006, thus, both were granted to post bail.
‘Murder by inducement’
In his decision, Balagot said the murder of Ong, which was executed by Camus and his team, was induced by the policemen and thus considered them as principal accused by inducement.
Balagot, citing Article 7 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), said that when someone induced another to commit a crime, that someone has also directly participated in it.
Mamburam, in several of his testimonies, has denied knowledge of Camus, Gabais, and Silonga and the plan to kill Ong.
The court, however, found Mamburam’s denials and alibis as “weak” and his credibility “doubtful.”
Balagot, citing Supreme Court jurisprudence, said that denials and alibis could not prevail over the testimonies of witnesses.
Camus, the self-confessed gunman, on the other hand, gave consistent testimonies as regards his participation in Ong’s murder and how Mamburam and the other police officers induced him to execute the crime.
He said the policemen promised him P150,000 as payment.
Court records also showed that Ong’s murder was masterminded by a certain Robert Ong, also a Tsinoy hardware store owner. Robert Ong, however, died from a lingering illness.
Balagot said that of the three hired killers, the sentence for Camus and Gabais was reduced to eight years up to 16 years, instead of lifetime imprisonment, when they admitted in their extra-judicial confession that they were responsible for Ong’s murder.
Balagot ordered the cancellation of Mamburam and Rinsulat’s bail.
He also ordered Camus and company the payment of P318,572 for hospitalization and funeral services; P100,000 for moral damages; P100,000 for civil damages; and P100,000 for exemplary damages.
Salome Liza Ong, wife of the slain Roger Ong, was teary eyed when she heard the court’s promulgation.
“Twelve years. We’ve suffered this much for 12 years. Finally, we got the justice we deserve,” she said. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)