PCG men summoned by DOJ on killing of Taiwanese fisherman
MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) summoned yesterday the 10 Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel involved in the fatal shooting of an alleged Taiwanese poacher in Balintang Channel, Batanes on May 9.
In a subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, prosecutors ordered the respondents to submit their answer to criminal charges filed against them by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last Aug. 14 for the death of 65-year-old Hung Shih-cheng.
In its referral-complaint filed on Tuesday with the DOJ, the bureau has sought the indictment for homicide of Commander Arnold de la Cruz, Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz, Seaman 2nd Class Nicky Reynold Aurello, and Seamen 1st Class Edrando Quiapo Aguila, Mhelvin Bendo, Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo, Sunny Galang Masangcay, and Henry Baco Solomon.
They were directed to appear before the DOJ at 2 p.m. on Sept. 9 and submit their counter-affidavits to charges of homicide.
The NBI also filed charges of obstruction of justice against De la Cruz, Bendo, Seaman 1st Class Marvin Ramirez, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Martin Bernabe for allegedly submitting tampered evidence, including “spliced” video footage, to the NBI.
The four allegedly gave false information to the NBI on the number of bullets discharged during the shooting.
According to the bureau, there was a conspiracy among the respondents. It said while it was Aguila who was found to have fired the M14 rifle shot that killed the Taiwanese, the seven others had admitted discharging their weapons and thus would be similarly charged for homicide.
The NBI had earlier cleared nine other Coast Guard men and three crewmen of the MCS-3001 vessel.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said a panel of state prosecutors would be constituted to conduct preliminary investigation on the charges.
If probable cause is established, the DOJ would then file the case in court, De Lima said.
The crime of homicide is punishable by imprisonment of 12 to 20 years under the Revised Penal Code.
In its report, the NBI said indiscriminate firing using high-powered guns showed “a common design to disregard the rules of engagement.”
“Any sensible and reasonable person is capable of discerning at that point that indiscriminate firing at a small fishing vessel will, in all likelihood, inevitably result not only in the disabling of the watercraft, but also in bodily harm or death,” the NBI report said.