CA affirms Abra cops’ liability in deaths of suspects in 2012

MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its decision last year finding a former police provincial director of Abra and another policeman guilty of grave misconduct in connection with the deaths of five persons seven years ago in Cagayan.

In a resolution by Associate Justice Ramon Cruz, the CA’s Special Former 12th Division junked the motion for reconsideration filed by Alexander Rafael and Senior Police Officer 3 Marino Manuel, seeking to reverse the CA’s Jan. 5, 2018 decision which affirmed the resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman resolution ordered their dismissal from the service after finding them criminally and administratively liable for murder and grave misconduct.

The appellate court rejected the claim of Rafael and Manuel that they acted in self-defense.

“After careful consideration of the motion, we find that the arguments raised therein are not novel and a mere rehash of the issues and arguments presented in their previous pleadings, which we have adequately passed upon in our decision dated Jan. 5, 2018,” the CA ruled.

The appellate court said although one of the victims, Michael Bermudez, had previous criminal records and the members of his group were carrying guns at the time they were killed, “it will not negate the fact that a rubout took place.”

The other victims — Nomer Biendima, Leonardo Apolinario Jr., Isabelo George Bernal II, and Daniel Villamor — had never been charged or convicted of any crime prior to the incident.

Rafael earlier claimed that the killing was the result of a legitimate shootout with Bermudez group along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay San Lorenzo, Lal-lo town, Cagayan.

Rafael claimed then that the slain suspects aboard a Toyota Corona had tailed them while they were on their way to his hometown in Cagayan from Ilocos Sur.

His group, he said, was only forced to fire back at the suspects after they refused to stop when they were flagged down.

“Autopsy reports of the bodies of Michael Bermudez, Nomer Biendima, Isabelo George Bernal II, Leonardo Apolinario, Jr., and Daniel Villamor revealed tattooing and shrapnel injuries suggesting that they were shot at close range — another fact consistent with the theory of rubout instead of shootout,” the CA ruled. Benjamin Pulta / PNA –