Victim’s family cries for justice

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Saturday, August 16, 2014


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Cesar Degay was laid to rest Thursday afternoon with prayers to bring justice for his untimely death.

Degay was one of two victims who died in the hands of Police Officer (PO) 2 Frenzel Mendoza in a brawl in Midtown bar including security personnel Sonny Caswang Awingan.

Mendoza was accompanied by PO3 Cid Acop and Nemer Comising and PO2 Maferson Santiago, all from the La Trinidad police station. All of them were immediately relieved from office and are now in Camp Dangwa.

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Mendoza now faces double murder charges as well as frustrated homicide raps now in local courts aside from an administrative case, which may lead to separation from the force.

Degay was 35 years old and left behind a family who is still grappling with the violence of his death.

The family in an interview said there is still no clear chronology of events, which led to the brutal shooting of Degay last week. It is still unknown why Mendoza shot Degay multiple times.

The family said Degay knew Acop personally and revealed it was only Mendoza who was seen for the first time in the bar.

The Scene of the Crime Operatives report, which was relayed to the family, revealed Degay was shot four times, thrice on the body and one to the head.

The family said one bullet was lodged to his side and two hit his back.
The bullets were taken from when his back was turned in a seeming attempt to take cover with one of the two bullets hit his heart.

The family then relayed, when Mendoza was done shooting Degay three times, he then went back to Degay and shot him in the head. The bullet was not removed and has taken to his grave.

“We do not know why [Mendoza] had to fire the last shot," the family lamented.

The family is also frustrated saying the scene of the crime is only meters from the nearest police substation at the foot of the provincial capitol within hearing and running distance from on duty police officers but according to them, not one responded to the sound of gunshots that fatal night.

Family members recall how it was faster for policemen to take Mendoza into the police mobile, than rushing Degay and Awingan to the nearest hospital.

Degay and Awingan died last week while Reymar Cosendo Copis was injured in the bar brawl at Midtown Bar.

The family said, in the confusion following the multiple shooting, Awingan was brought by concerned citizens to the hospital then Degay, where he was declared dead on arrival. Awingan died while on the operating room, in an effort for doctors to save his life.

Awingan’s body was brought back to Kalinga, where his family is rooted. He is from the Taluctuc area.

Degay’s family though frustrated and grieving shared they have one consolation - that Mendoza and the three others have been apprehended, relieved and now face the full force of the law.

“We hope all those who are responsible are to be charged and questioned, all those who did something and those who could have done something but did not, to help the situation,” they said.

The family likewise stressed the issue on Degay’s death is rooted in the irresponsible way policemen conducted themselves in the bar and is not about the effectivity of the La Trinidad liquor curfew.

“That is not the issue, the issue is that policemen carried their guns while off duty and shot people,” they expressed.

The family vowed to pursue the case in all legal avenues, they are represented by lawyer Dong Paredes.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 16, 2014.

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