4 charged for death of US embassy employee’s spouse

Posted at 11/26/12 8:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Three businessmen and a student of De La Salle University were charged with murder yesterday for allegedly beating up and killing a United States embassy employee’s husband, a former US Marine, in Makati City Saturday.

Jose Alfonzo Abastillas, 24; Crispin Chong Dela Paz, 28; Osric Malabanan Cabrera, 27; and Galicano Salas Datu III were charged before the city prosecutor’s office for the death of George Anikow.

“We have not determined their exact participation but they all beat him up, according to the security guard,” said city police chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban.

Anikow, 41, lived in Bel-Air Subdivision. He was declared dead in Makati Medical Center about 7 a.m. Saturday. His body was sent to Rizal Funeral Homes in Pasay for autopsy.

A drunk Anikow was allegedly standing beside security guard Jose Rommel Saavedra, who was on duty at the subdivision gate, when the suspects arrived in a gray Volvo sport utility vehicle or SUV (TOJ-886) at about 3:55 a.m. on Saturday.

The group was supposed to enter the subdivision as a short cut to Palm Village, where Cabrera lives.
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Abastillas, who was driving the SUV, rolled down his window and talked to Saavadera. Anikow, reportedly, interrupted them and said: “You need to present your ID, the guard is checking you.”

Abastillas initially ignored Anikow but asked Saavedra before rolling up his window. Before Abastillas could move away, Anikow “strongly tapped the driver side portion and rear passenger side of the suspects’ car.”

The “irked” suspects alighted and confronted Anikow. Saavedra tried to mediate but Anikow allegedly pushed one of the suspects, turning the verbal tussle into a fistfight.

During the brawl, Anikow ran away from the suspects but they chased him. When the four caught up with Anikow, they continued to beat up the former US serviceman until he fell to the ground.

Quick response

A wounded Anikow was left on street. One of the suspects told Saavadera: “Huwag ka magsusumbong, huwag mong kunin plate number namin, gago yan (Don’t tell, don’t get our plate number, he is a fool).”

Saavedra, however, had already informed the authorities through the Philippine National Police (PNP) Hotline 117 while the four ganged up on Anikow. The information was forwarded to the local police, who chased the suspects and intercepted them along Estrella street near Rockwell Center.

Police officers searched the car and recovered a knife with traces of blood on the floor of the SUV’s shotgun seat.

Lukban has yet to identify who occupied that side of the car. The SUV is registered under the name of Orient Star Transport Phil Inc., a company reportedly owned by Abastillas’s mother.

The city rescue unit, meanwhile, rushed Anikow to Makati Medical Center, where he was declared dead at past 7 a.m. He had stab wounds on his left shoulder and in his back.

Close watch

US Ambassador Harry Thomas said they will work “closely” with the PNP to resolve the case. The Manila head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has already coordinated with the local police for the probe.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte expressed hope that the incident would not result in another travel advisory against the Philippines.

The four suspects were subjected to a drug test and medical check-up as part of the police’s standard operating procedure. The evidence recovered at the crime site and inside the car have been submitted for forensic examination.

Police investigators have also requested footage taken by surveillance cameras installed near the crime site.