Editorial: Meandering Archival case

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014


LAWYER Noel Archival and two of his aides were killed last Feb. 18 in a professionally executed ambush using high-powered guns in a portion of the national highway in Dalaguete town. That was some five months ago.

A special police task force was created to look into the killing, but National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 eventually took the lead in the probe that led to elements of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 being considered as the killing’s prime suspects.

Special Investigation Task Group Archival and NBI 7 lodged with the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office multiple murder complaints against the HPG 7 officers who were then relieved from their posts and temporarily assigned in Camp Crame.

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They are Insp. Joselito Lerion, former chief of HPG 7’s Special Operation Team; Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, former HPG 7 chief; Chief Insp. Eduardo Mara, former HPG provincial chief; SPO4 Edwin Galan, former HPG 7 custodian; and PO1 Alex Bacani.

The movement of the complaint has meandered, though, and is stuck in the preliminary investigation stage because the defendants used every legal means available to them under the democratic principle of due process to prevent the case from reaching the court yet.

The defense push for state prosecutors in Manila to handle the preliminary investigation of the case was matched by the inhibition from the case by a panel under the office of the provincial prosecutor, prompting the regional prosecutor to take matters in his hands.

Murder is a non-bailable offense, meaning that the respondents in the Archival case will most probably be locked up in jail once the trial starts. Of course there are exceptions, like when the court considers as weak the evidence against the respondents and allows them to post bail.

But that is going ahead of the story.

The latest twist is the former HPG 7 officials lodging a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against the NBI 7 officials who took the lead in the investigation of the case. They asked the anti-graft office to place the concerned NBI 7 officials under preventive suspension.

The filing of the said complaint can be considered a mere sidelight to the one lodged against the former HPG 7 officials but it illustrates how messy the effort to prosecute the case has become.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.

Opinion

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