PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the arrest of Nel Spencer Tiu and the other companions of Ashley Abad at the pre-Sinulog party at the Cebu Business Park last Jan. 19, during which Ashley was said to have ingested a party drug.
The 19-year-old Ashley died from an Ecstasy overdose the next day.
The order was addressed to Senior Supt. Royina Garma, chief of the Cebu City Police Office.
The order was made by Duterte in front of the Abad family, who met the President last Thursday, Feb. 7.
According to an Abad relative who asked not to be named, Duterte was talking to someone on the phone and was overheard saying, “Put him in jail!” But the person on the other end explained that no case had been filed against Tiu. Duterte reportedly retorted: “I don’t care. Inga President ang nagpadakop (Tell them the President wants him arrested). File a homicide case against him (Tiu). That’s an order.”
The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 confirmed receiving a directive from the President to charge those involved in Ashley’s death.
Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, PRO 7 director, said Garma had briefed the President on their investigation.
With the President directly involved in the case, PRO 7 officials planned to summon all of Ashley’s companions, including her boyfriend Tiu, who were with her at the party.
Police are still trying to determine who brought the party drug that eventually killed Ashley.
Sinas said Abad’s boyfriend had been identified as the prime suspect.
Should Tiu’s family refuse to submit him for an investigation, the PRO 7 planned to ask PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde to invoke subpoena powers to have him cooperate, Sinas said.
If Tiu still refused to cooperate after that, Sinas said they would have no choice but to arrest and charge him and his relatives.
Sinas said Tiu’s relatives could be charged with negligence resulting to homicide for refusing to provide help to Ashley that resulted in her untimely death.
The police have secured the testimony of the doctor that took care of Ashley when she was brought to the hospital.
Witnesses had told police that Tiu and his companions were slow to bring Ashley to the hospital after she collapsed during the party.
“I think there were six of them. We have identified them. If they will not voluntarily surrender even if we subpoena them, we will include them in our charges,” Sinas added.
The police official, though, did not issue an ultimatum for Tiu and his companions to present themselves.
Sinas admitted he was frustrated with them for refusing to cooperate.
He promised Tiu and his companions that he would remove them from the list of persons of interest in the case if they identified the person who provided them the party drugs.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7, which is also investigating the case, admitted that it was also having a difficult time getting information from Ashley’s boyfriend and companions.
The agency is waiting for the results of Ashley’s autopsy.
In a separate interview, Benny Abad, the family spokesman, said they, too, were waiting for the autopsy report before filing a case against all those involved.
The result is expected to be released on Feb. 14.
“Once we file a case (against Tiu), this will be murder, so he cannot put up bail for his temporary liberty. Their companions are willing to tell it all. Tiu is evading invitations from the police, while their companions are willing to tell what happened,” Benny said.
He said it would be murder because they convinced Ashley to take one whole pill instead of just half. They also let her drink even though Ecstasy is not supposed to be mixed with alcohol, he said.
“Being users themselves (Ashley’s companions) for a long time, they knew the do’s and don’ts on Ecstasy. So why did they let her drink? My theory is that there was an intent to kill her. That’s murder. That’s my opinion,” Benny said.
He said the authorities already had the names of Ashley’s companions at the party.
“In fact, they are willing to be interrogated or questioned by the police on what they know about the incident. They are willing to cooperate with the police. Only Tiu, Ashley’s boyfriend, is evading police interview,” Benny said.
He said the police invited Tiu to a meeting two weeks ago, but neither Tiu nor any member of his family showed up. His lawyer, Orlando Salatandre Jr., appeared in his stead, Benny said.
When Garma told Salatandre to present his client, the lawyer said his client was invoking his constitutional right.
“What constitutional right are they talking about? ... They are invited to a meeting to shed light. Nobody accused them yet,” Benny said.
In a speech in Legaspi City, Albay Friday, Feb. 8, Duterte took a swipe at human rights groups for keeping silent over Ashley’s death, especially since they harped on his administration’s deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.
“Kahapon, ‘yung kay Ashley, ‘yung bata na namatay, parents went there sa opisina ko. Kaganda na bata. Nineteen years old. Medical student. Ang human rights, wala akong narinig sa mga p***** ***** ‘yan (The parents of Ashley, the teenager who died, went to my office. The 19-year-old was beautiful and a medical student. I haven’t heard yet from human rights, those sons of b******),” Duterte said. (from AYB of Superbalita Cebu, JKV, EOB)