THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed murder charges against 22 police personnel assigned at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) over the “suspicious” deaths of several high-profile inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

In a statement, the NBI said eight counts of murder were filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Major Lymel John Hayahay Pasquin; Staff Sergeants Rannel Tanajura Gadiano and Christian Aragon Mercarsos; Corporals Laurence Rallos Antiporta, Jhunben Oca Alegado, Jayson Lequin Añonuevo, Rosanie Mujeres Bernales, Michael Hellacone Boco, Rolex Margaja Borgonia, Jophy Tagmayon Buot, Gilwen Basallo Garcia, Edmar Ilustisimo Gerra, Archie Auman Grapa, Vernardo Vispo Into, Ener Perez Restauro, Banedy Taliporos Solante, Jernie Mata Tiongzon and Jan Anthon Rodulf Tabotabo Uy; Patrolmen Roland Butch Pelostratus Duran, James Gemetiza Aninapon and Rey Reponte Fernandez; and Dr. Beverly De Guzman.

The charges were related to the deaths of Francis Go, Shuli Lim Zhang, Jimmy Ang, Eugene Chua, Benjamin Marcelo, Sherwin Sanchez, Amin Boratong, and Willy Yan, all high-profile persons deprived of liberty (PsDL) serving their sentence over illegal drugs at the NBP.

The NBI-Death Investigation Division (DID) conducted investigation on the cases following the order of former Justice secretary Menardo Guevarra on the alleged deaths of Jaybee Sebastian and eight other high-profile PsDL due to coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Based on reports, the said PsDL were isolated to a facility under the control of the NCRPO security and medical teams inside the NBP compound due to Covid-19.

The DID said that based on its investigation, the inmates did not show any signs of Covid-19 and that they seem “well, normal or lively.”

This was based on the accounts of witnesses who were also confined in the isolation facilities.

The DID said the patients were only separated either by curtains or plywood.

“The only irregular observation they made was their co-PsDL gradually disappeared from Building 4 after they had revealed that they were to be transferred to the comfortable isolation room,” the NBI said.

“This is inconsistent with the allegations of the NCRPO personnel who all purported that they administered nursing intervention and were all on-alert when the PsDL were in an emergency situation,” it added.

Investigators also noted the time before the victims were brought to the nearest hospital after declaring an “emergency situation.”

All the deceased PsDL were declared dead on arrival and it was stated that their cause of death was either by cardiac or pulmonary arrest.

“Subjects took advantage of the fact that victims were confined at Building 4, Site Harry, an NCRPO-managed isolation area, due to Covid-19 infection. They availed the situation that in case of Covid-19 cases, cadavers should immediately be cremated. Cremation, for this case, was the final act to consummate and effectively cover-up the scheme to kill the victims,” the NBI said.

Probe, however, determined that the death of Sebastian was due to natural causes. (SunStar Philippines)