17 cops in 'Bloody Sunday' raids face murder complaint

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 1) - Seventeen policemen are facing a murder complaint over the death of labor leader Emmanuel Asuncion, one of the activists killed in the "Bloody Sunday" raids.

The Department of Justice on Wednesday confirmed that its Administrative Order 35 special investigating team has filed the complaint for preliminary investigation.

Based on a subpoena issued by the Dasmariñas City Prosecutor, most of the cops are from the Calabarzon Regional Office.

The respondents are:

- PLt. Elbert Santos

- PLt. Shay Jed Sapitula

- PSMS. Hector Cardinales

- PMSg. Ariel Dela Cruz

- PSSg. Joemark Sajul

- PCpl. Ernie Ambuyoc

- PCpl. Mark John Defiesta

- PCpl. Arjay Garcia

- PCpl. Caidar Dimacangun

- PCpl. Bryan Sanchez

- PCpl. Ericson Lucido

- Pat. Jayson Maala

- Pat. Juanito Plite

- Pat. Jonathan Tatel

- Pat. Prince Benjamin Torres

- Pat. Jaime Turingan

- Pat. Lopera Rey Dacara

The subpoena was dated Nov. 22, but was released to the media only on Wednesday. The implicated officers are required to appear before the city prosecutor's office on Jan. 11 and 25 for the preliminary probe and to submit their counter-affidavits.

Asuncion was a member of progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Cavite. He was among the nine activists killed last March in simultaneous police operations in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

Also killed were Michael Dasigao and Mark Lee Bacasno of urban poor group SIKADD-Montalban, couple Ana Marie and Ariel Evangelista of fisherfolk group UMALPAS-KA in Batangas, cousins and Dumagat leaders Puroy and Randy dela Cruz from Tanay in Rizal, and farmers Abner and Edward Esto from Teresa, also in Rizal.

In the case of the Evangelista couple, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation is wrapping up its interviews of witnesses, and that the special investigation team's report is expected in around two weeks.

The deaths of the Dela Cruz cousins, however, were not included in the probe "as no cause-oriented connection was established," according to the Justice secretary.

He said investigations into the other killings are ongoing.

Human rights group Karapatan and labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno welcomed the DOJ's move, but stressed all victims "deserve no less than justice."

"We continue to urge that similar murder charges be brought against the perpetrators and commanding officers involved in the killings of all the nine," Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

Both organizations also called for the release of the activists arrested during the raids and slapped with complaints of illegal possession of firearms.

The Philippine National Police earlier said the "Bloody Sunday" victims were members of the New People's Army "hiding behind the facade of being activists." It also claimed they were armed and fought back.

But human rights groups slammed the allegations and accused police of planting the weapons. Kilusang Mayo Uno also said the activists were victims of red-tagging, "bogus" search warrants, and trumped-up charges.

Meanwhile, Palabay said officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict "who incited violence against the groups of the victims and justified the killings as mere anti-crime activities should likewise be investigated for their accountability" in the police operations.