The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the filing of homicide charges against three Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operatives and four Philippine National Police (PNP) members involved in the so-called “misencounter” on February 24, 2021 in Quezon City where three law enforcers were killed.
The DOJ on Thursday said its panel of prosecutors issued a resolution last May 2 approving the indictment of PDEA agents Khee Maricar Rodas, Jeffrey Baguidudol, and Jelou Satiniaman, and direct assault charges against police Maj. Sandie Caparroso, Lt. Honey Besas, SMsg. Melvin Merida, and Cpl. Paul Christian Gandeza.
“The respective informations (criminal charge sheets) against the respondents will be filed at the proper courts in Quezon City,” the DOJ said in a statement.
It said the resolution was issued after the preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ prosecutors on the complaints separately filed by the PDEA and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which conducted separate investigations on the incident.
The cases arose from the February 24, 2021 firefight between the PDEA agents and the policemen who were conducting separate drug buy-bust operations along Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City.
The incident resulted in the deaths of PDEA agent Rankin Gano and Cpl. Eric Elvin Garado and Cpl. Lauro De Guzman, both of the PNP.
“After evaluation of the evidence, the Panel of Prosecutors found sufficient evidence to charge respondent PDEA agents Rodas, Baguidudol, and Santiniaman for Homicide for the death of P/Cpl. Garado. With respect to the injuries sustained by the PDEA responders, there are sufficient evidence identifying some police officers who actually hit, strike, and maul them. The affidavits of witnesses, and the admissions of respondents during the clarificatory hearing, identify P/Cpl. Gandeza, P/Lt. Besas, P/Maj. Caparroso (2 counts), P/SMsg. Merida as the assailants. Hence, there is probable cause to charge them for Direct Assault for the injuries sustained by the PDEA responders,” the DOJ said.
“However, with respect to the death of P/Cpl. De Guzman, the charge against PDEA agent Romero Asuncion is dismissed on the ground that the firearm and caliber used to shoot P/Cpl. De Guzman was never identified. Also, none of the evidence bullets or the spent cartridges found at the area (Zone E) matches agent Asuncion’s firearm. With respect to the death of Gano, the charge against P/Cpl. Alvin Borja is also dismissed. The Medico-Legal report and the Ballistics Examination by the NBI-FILD failed to identify the fatal shot at agent Gano. There is also no record showing that P/Cpl. Borja was the only one who actually shot at Gano,” it added.
The DOJ said that the panel of prosecutors also dismissed the other complaints of attempted homicide, falsification of official document, robbery, conniving to or consenting to evasion, arbitrary detention, sedition, and violation of the Anti-Torture Act in connection with the incident.