Probe turns police into crime suspects

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Friday, March 21, 2014


NATIONAL Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 Director Max Salvador named four officials of the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 as “suspects” in the death of lawyer Noel Archival and his two companions last month.

The NBI 7 used a search warrant issued by Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 when it inspected vehicles that were impounded by the HPG 7.

The warrant names Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, HPG 7 chief; Chief Insp. Eduardo Mara, HPG 7 operations officer; Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion, and SPO4 Edwin Galan, HPG 7 chief
clerk.

“There is probable cause and justifiable cause that the violation of article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended (murder) had been committed by the subjects (Iglesia, Mara, Lerion, and Galan),” said Peras.

In an interview with reporters, Galan denied any participation in the killing of Archival; his aide Candido Miñoza; and driver Alejandro Jayme in Barangay Coro, Dalaguete last Feb. 18.

Named

Can a person be considered suspect in a crime if he is named in a search warrant?

Salvador said the search warrant was “based on truth” and they needed it to make their search legal.

Lawyer Ian Vincent Manticajon said that in most cases the person who holds or has control of the property to be seized is usually also the suspect.

“But in some cases, (he/she) may just be an innocent custodian,” he added.

The 1987 Constitution's Bill of Rights guarantees that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

Rule

Rule 126 (Search and Seizure) of the Rules of Court defines a search warrant as “an order issued in the name of the People of the Philippines, signed by a judge and directed to a peace officer, commanding him to search for personal property described therein and bring it before the court.”

Section 4 of Rule 126 states a search warrant shall not be issued “except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized, which may be anywhere in the Philippines.”

Probable cause, according to a legal dictionary, is the level of reasonable belief needed to prosecute a person and is attained by evaluating facts and evidence.

Vehicles

In the search warrant, NBI agents and the police's Special Investigation Task Group
Archival (SITG) want to seize four vehicles that are believed to be used by assailants in killing Archival and his companions.

An investigator said the team was able to trace the vehicles after CCTV footages in Dalaguete town captured the plate numbers.

Records at the Land Transportation Office 7 reveal that the license plates belong to impounded vehicles.

Vehicles in police custody are evidence in cases like car smuggling and theft.

Red car

NBI agents and SITG were looking for two red Toyota Vios with license plates (GSC-675) and (GSR 995); and two gray Mitsubishi Strada pickups with license plates (NVD-549) and (ZEZ 932).

They only found one red Vios (GSC-675) at the HPG 7 impounding yard. Inside the car, the NBI and SITG found a police commemorative plate and a pleading filed by Archival for his client, Maria Paz Go.

Salvador said they already found one Strada and may recover it soon. Criminal omplaints against the suspects will be filed next week.

Personnel from the SITG, Scene of the Crime Operative (SOCO), and Dalaguete Police Station went to the NBI 7 office yesterday morning. The search warrant was returned to RTC Branch 10 with the list of evidence the law enforcers recovered, including the red Vios that will undergo forensic examination, GMA 7 reported.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 22, 2014.

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