DOJ junks Coast Guard bid to stop shooting incident probe-A A +A
Monday, September 9, 2013
CAREER prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday declined to heed the request of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel linked to the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman last May 9 to refer the cases to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The respondents wanted the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices to handle the preliminary investigation into the homicide and obstruction of justice raps but Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera said these cases will not fall under the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
He cited the 2012 memorandum of agreement between the DOJ and the Ombudsman, where cases under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan will have to be endorsed to the anti-graft agency.
Navera, head of the three-man investigating panel, assured a fair probe despite the respondents' insistence that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has prejudged the case based on her media pronouncements.
"We need not concern ourselves on how Secretary de Lima looks at this case. As career officials, we are not bound by the statements of the Secretary of Justice,” Navera said during the first hearing of the preliminary probe.
Navera dispelled also notions that the DOJ will be unfair to the Coast Guard men because it was the NBI, an attached agency, which initiated the complaint in relation to the shooting incident off Batanes.
He said the NBI is filing hundreds of cases with the department yet not all have been pursued in court.
The hearing lasted for two hours as the surviving crew of the Taiwanese vessel subscribed to their sworn affidavit. The three are Hong Yu Zhi, Hong Jie Zhang and Imam Buchaeri, companions of slain fisherman Hung Shih-cheng. They were suspected of poaching in Philippine waters.
Only four out of the 10 coast guard were present in the hearing, namely, Commander Arnold Dela Cruz of patrol ship MCS-3001, Seamen First Class Henry Baco Solomon and Mhelvin Bendo and Lieutenant Junior Grade Martin Bernabe.
The next hearing is on September 16 as NBI Deputy Director for Regional Services Virgilio Mendez is required to subscribe to the complaint before the respondents can file their counter-affidavit. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)