Are HPG officials behind Archival’s slay?

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Friday, March 21, 2014


RIGHT after the fatal ambush of lawyer Noel Archival and two of his aides, several angles surfaced as to the motive behind the killings.

Some of these angles were damaging to the person and profession of Archival, who was a criminal trial lawyer.

Some of the angles investigators pursued included a moneyed client whom Archival may have assured of a victory in a case that involved a huge amount of money, that it had to do with the Ruben Ecleo Jr. case or that it had to do with a land-grabbing case.

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Finally, there was the angle of government agents being behind the well-funded, well-planned and well-executed operation.

After an elimination process, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 and police investigators pursued the last theory that government agents were behind the attack.

And now it can be told as authorities raided the impounding area of the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 and seized the vehicles allegedly used in the ambush that also killed Archival’s aide Candido Miñoza and driver Alejandro Jayme in Barangay Coro, Dalaguete last Feb. 18. Another aide, Paulo Cortes, survived the attack.

We are not jumping into conclusions that HPG officials masterminded the ambush-slay but based on the theory and the circumstantial evidences, there is that probability that they were behind it. It was a “resback,” or an act of vengeance.

Archival filed criminal and administrative cases against officials of the HPG 7 before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and other Law Enforcement Offices last year. Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, HPG 7 director; Chief Insp. Eduardo Mara, operations chief; Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion; and SPO4 Edwin Galan, chief clerk, were among the 14 personnel who were charged by Archival.

Are these people capable of that barbaric act? Yes, of course, because they have the capability. Remember that the assailants were on board an SUV and sedan vehicles and were carrying Armalite rifles. Only military men and law enforcers can possess such high-caliber firearms.

Had the mastermind and assailants been ordinary people, they would have used hired killers riding in tandem on motorcycles. But as I said, it was a well-funded, well-planned and well-executed operation.

The raid of the HGP 7’s impounding area and the seizure of the four vehicles were based on witnesses’ accounts and the CCTV footage taken near the crime scene. Cortes, the lone survivor, could have also provided authorities with vital information.

Sources said the red Toyota Vios with plate number GSC 675 was pulled out from the impounding area on the day when Archival’s group was ambushed and the vehicle was returned a few hours after incident. If this was the vehicle used, who had the key?

The vehicle is owned by Archival’s clients Catherine Go and Chris Reinz and had been impounded by the HPG 7. Go was charged with carnapping by HPG officials before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office. This prompted Archival to file cases against the HPG 7 officials. Found inside the car were a police commemorative plate number and a copy of a motion for reconsideration prepared by the slain lawyer.

Solving a crime, especially those without direct witnesses, is like solving a puzzle.

But with this latest breakthrough, I hope those responsible in the cold-blooded murder of Archival will be unmasked and be brought to justice. They should pay for the crime they committed. If, indeed, HPG 7 officials were behind it, this is another slap to the face of the entire Philippine National Police organization. Instead of protecting the lives of innocent civilians from criminal elements, they become oppressors and, worst, killers. Mind you, we have been hearing cases of the same nature in our midst.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

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

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