Archival case suspects ‘out’-A A +A
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
CEBU - Four of the five Highway Patrol Group (HPG) Central Visayas officials implicated in the ambush of lawyer Noel Archival were removed from their posts.
Senior Insp. Eduardo Mara, HPG provincial chief, told journalists he will follow orders and go to their main office in Camp Crame within the week.
Supt. Romualdo Iglesia was removed as HPG 7 chief, effective April 16, and Supt. Rommel Ochave was designated as officer-in-charge by Senior Supt. Edwin Rey Butacan, chief of the HPG Headquarters Human Resources and Doctrine Development Division.
Mara said they will be temporarily assigned at the Personnel Holding Administrative Section in Camp Crame while waiting for the results of the administrative inquiry against them.
He said he was ready to face both administrative and criminal investigations, and insisted he was not involved in the attack that killed the lawyer and two of his companions.
Archival, his aide Candido Miñoza and driver Alejandro Jayme died after being ambushed in Coro, Dalaguete town last February 18, on their way back to Cebu City after a court appointment in Negros Oriental.
Only Paolo Cortes, Archival’s other aide, survived the attack.
The five HPG officers were named respondents last April 15 in complaints for multiple murder and frustrated murder by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 and the Special Investigation Task Group Archival.
The NBI earlier said it had found proof that two of the vehicles used in the ambush had been removed from the HPG’s impounding area in Lahug, Cebu City by two of the officers.
In a separate interview, lawyer Inocencio dela Cerna welcomed the creation of a panel of prosecutors that will conduct the preliminary investigation on the criminal cases filed against his clients.
“We have full faith, trust and confidence in the panel,” he said. “If there are several prosecutors who investigate the case, they can come up with a better resolution.”
Provincial Prosecutor Pepita Jane Petralba, in a memorandum issued last Monday, named assistant prosecutors Petronio Elesterio, Jay Paradiang, Rustom Presas Jr., Ferdinand Collantes and Al Rey Ouano as members of the panel.
Dela Cerna received yesterday morning copies of the complaints filed against his clients and said he will study the documents before making any move.
Along with Mara, also relieved from their positions were Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion, HPG 7 Special Operations Team head, and SPO4 Edwin Galan, HPG 7 the custodian.
The four policemen were also placed under camp restriction.
Defense lawyer Hazan Bargamento said the camp restriction showed that the policemen are still in the country, contrary to rumors that they have gone abroad to escape criminal prosecution.
Bargamento voiced confidence the policemen will eventually be cleared of charges because the evidence against them is weak.
Lawyer Max Salvador, NBI 7 chief, said he hopes that the HPG Headquarters’ decision to restrict the officers to their camp would help the investigation of the charges.
Last April 16, the NBI 7 also filed administrative complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, accusing the police officials of gross misconduct and violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards Act.
Atty. Salvador also asked Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol to place the respondents under preventive suspension “so that they cannot use their position to harass and intimidate witnesses and destroy evidence.”
Apostol, in an interview, said he will refer the administrative complaint to the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices, since all the respondents are policemen.
Senior Insp. Oliver Plania, HPG 7 public information officer, that said the fifth respondent, PO1 Alex Bacani, was not yet included in the relief order, which focused first on the officials.
Bacani is a non-commissioned officer.
Plania said it was part of the protocol to relieve the officers so they can undergo the administrative inquiry.
He said the unit is requesting for more personnel to fill the available posts in the HPG 7 office and, in the meantime, will divide the functions among themselves.
The HPG regional office has no deputy chief and intelligence chief for the meantime.
But Plania clarified that their operation is not affected yet.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 23, 2014.