By Benjamin Pulta

FORMAL COMPLAINTS. Lawyer Ronald Halilid Torres (center) accompanies the family members of three male students, who were gunned down last year, in filing cases before the Department of Justice in Manila on Monday (March 13, 2023). The victims aged 18, 19, and 20 were allegedly executed by cops at a checkpoint in Sultan Kudarat province in December last year. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – Criminal charges were filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) Monday against police officers who allegedly killed or witnessed the death of three young men in Sultan Kudarat province in December last year.

Lawyer Ronald Halilid Torres said evidence suggest that at least one of the victims was kneeling when he was shot.

Murder, planting of evidence, falsification of documents, grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and irregularity in the performance of duty were slapped against Lambayong Municipal Police Station chief, Maj. Jenahmeel Toñacao, and seven others.

The co-accused are Senior Master Sgt. Syril Mahaddi, Cpl. Elpedio Garlit, Cpl. Joffrey Apalla, Pat. Nicol Dion Toreja, Pat. Basser Mako, Pat. Mario Rombaoa Jr. and Pat. Roldan Claveria.

The complainants thanked the National Bureau of Investigation for pursuing the cases.

Police claimed it was a shootout after Samanudin Ali, 19; Horton Ansa Jr., 20; and Arsad Ansa, 18, who were on a motorcycle, escaped a checkpoint.

“Based on the documents that we have, sila po ay binaril. Meron po tayong postmortem report, meron tayong autopsy, meron po tayong ballistic reports. Kaya kumpleto po ang mga dokumento na ebidensyang magpapagkita ng kanilang kasalanan (Based on the documents that we have, they were shot. We have a post mortem report, we have an autopsy, we have ballistic reports. So we have complete documents showing their misdeeds),” Torres said in a media briefing outside the DOJ office in Manila, in disputing the police version.

In an interview, DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the incident underscored “the need for police reform” and overhaul of internal mechanisms to check abuses and crimes attributed to men in uniform. (PNA)