THE Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of four of the five policemen allegedly involved in the ambush-slay of lawyer Noel Archival and his two companions last year.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the recommendation of Myra Zipagan, graft investigation and prosecution officer, to suspend the four Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 officers for six months without pay.
“Considering that the pieces of evidence gathered by NBI-PNP Task Force Archival appear to be strongly indicative of the culpability of the respondents for grave misconduct...it is warranted that respondents be placed under preventive suspension for the duration of the case,” read the ombudsman’s order penned by Zipagan.
Ordered suspended are Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, former HPG 7 director; Insp. Joselito Lerion, former HPG 7 Special Operations Team chief; SPO4 Edwin Galan; and PO1 Alex Bacani.
Former HPG provincial chief Eduardo Mara was spared since he reportedly retired from government service, the ombudsman said.
Ophie Easter Bragat, lawyer of the policemen, said they will file a motion for reconsideration on the ombudsman’s order.
Bragat said they are initiating contact with the family of the policemen to inform them of the suspension.
Except for Galan, who was cleared by the prosecutors, Iglesia, Lerion and Bacani are facing a multiple murder case for the deaths of Archival, his aide Candido Miñoza and driver Alejandro Jayme, and a frustrated murder case for injuries sustained by Paolo Cortes during the ambush in Dalaguete, Cebu last year.
The policemen are considered fugitives. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is on a nationwide manhunt against them.
Jaime Hermo Morente, director for PNP Personnel and Records Management, issued the special order dropping the accused from the roll last Jan. 26 for being absent without official leave (Awol).
A PNP member dropped from the roll is “separated” from the service for absenteeism or going on Awol for more than 30 days.
He is dropped from the roll for failing to notify his immediate superior about his inability to report for work.
Dropping from the roll, though, is not dismissal from service, an administrative penalty when a policeman is found guilty of a grave administrative offense, which includes but is not necessarily limited to absenteeism or Awol.
The NBI 7 lodged administrative charges against former HPG 7 officers before Ombudsman-Visayas last April 16.
Former NBI 7 Chief Max Salvador asked the anti-graft office to place the respondents under preventive suspension “so that they cannot use their position to harass and intimidate witnesses and destroy evidence.”