Military probes reservist in Stephanie shooting
MANILA, Philippines - The military on Friday said it is conducting its own investigation on ex-military officer Juan Agos over the stray bullet death of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella during the New Year celebration.
Speaking to reporters, Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said the military is cracking the whip on soldiers and reservists who violated an Armed Forces directive against indiscriminate firing during the New Year's celebration.
Burgos said the Agos case has come to the attention of the AFP leadership.
"Juan Agos, a resident of Caloocan with a reserve rank of Sergeant will be investigated as part of the due process and may be delisted from the reserve force if his negligence is found regarding the report that he handed his gun over to his friend/s who fired it," he said.
"If any criminal liability is found, civilian authorities and the court will have jurisdiction over him," he added.
Agos was earlier cleared by Caloocan police in Ella's death after his registered firearms did not match the bullet that killed the girl.
However, a police spokesman told ABS-CBN News authorities will ask a local court for a search warrant to see if Agos owns other guns.
Burgos said due process will be served in the investigation on Agos "and the AFP will help civilian authorities in the prosecution of the case if probable cause is found.
The military spokesman also confirmed that one Air Force staff sergeant, Ricky Castro, assigned at the 600th Airbase Wing in Clark Air Base in Pampanga is now under custody of the Philippine Air Force for indiscriminate firing during the New Year celebration.
Burgos said the action of one soldier does not diminish the professionalism of the 120,000 others who have done their part in serving the people.
"However, the AFP leadership takes this matter seriously and assures our people that the maximum administrative penalty will be meted to any erring individual soldier," he said.