Navotas police chief ‘concealed’ involvement of 11 other cops in mistaken identity case

MANILA. Jerhode Baltazar will be laid to rest Wednesday afternoon, August 16, 2023. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo)
MANILA. Jerhode Baltazar will be laid to rest Wednesday afternoon, August 16, 2023. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo)

THE chief of the Navotas City Police Station has been ordered relieved by the Internal Affairs Services (IAS) of the Philippine National Police for allegedly ordering the exclusion of 11 of his men from the mistaken identity case.

The IAS directed the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) to implement the order against Police Colonel Allan Umipig, who instructed the team leader of the operatives to not include 11 police officers from those who will be charged over the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Jerhode Baltazar.

Baltazar, whom the police thought was the murder suspect they were looking for, was shot dead in the morning of August 2.

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In a statement, IAS Inspector General Attorney Alfegar Triambulo said they discovered Umipig’s order to exclude some of his men amid their ongoing investigation on the case.

This prompted him to direct the NCRPO to immediately relieve Umipig from his post as they file charges of dishonesty and command responsibility against him.

“The IAS will also file charges against the 11 police officers whose identities were initially concealed. They will be charged for abandoning the victim and other possible violations of police operational procedures,” Triambulo said.

Six policemen, along with their two immediate supervisors, have already been charged with administrative cases for grave misconduct over the incident.

Triambulo said the case is already at the summary hearing stage, which may take around 20 days.

He earlier said they are expecting to release their recommendation in the first week of September.

During the preliminary investigation of the reckless imprudence resulting in homicide case filed against them on Tuesday, August 15, Police Executive Master Sergeant Roberto Balais, Police Staff Sergeant Gerry Maliban, Police Staff Sergeant Antonio Bugayong, Police Staff Sergeant Nikko Esquilon, Police Corporal Eduard Blanco, and Patrolman Benedict Mangada did not attend but sent their respective legal representatives.

Baltazar’s camp filed a motion seeking to upgrade the charges against the cops to murder, a non-bailable case. Reckless imprudence resulting in homicide is a bailable case.

Baltazar’s companion during the incident was also present during the preliminary probe. He will serve as witness for the victim’s camp.

The teenager and his companion were preparing their boat for fishing when the police, who were then conducting a hot pursuit operation in relation to a murder incident, arrived.

The witness said they initially hid in the corner as they were afraid of the cops.

He said the police, around 10, some in civilian clothes, ordered them to come out and threatened to shoot them.

When they were about to come out, the police started shooting, prompting Baltazar to jump off the water.

He said the police continuously shoot Baltazar through the water.

Baltazar was recovered several hours later. He sustained gunshots in the head and right hand.

The policemen in their report following the incident admitted that they mistook Baltazar for a murder suspect.

Baltazar will be laid to rest Wednesday afternoon, August 16. (SunStar Philippines)

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