Cops facing raps for Mayor Aquino’s slay placed on restrictive custody

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) — Seven police personnel facing murder and frustrated murder complaints for the killing of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino were ordered placed under restrictive custody, Philippine National Police Chief Guillermo Eleazar said Friday.

He said they have to face the complaints because the organization will not cover up for their wrongdoings.

“Haharapin nila ang kasong isinampa sa kanila. Sinisiguro ko po sa inyo na hindi pagtatakpan ng PNP ang mga pulis na umano’y sangkot sa pagpaslang kay Mayor Aquino,” he said in a statement.

[Translation: They need to face the complaints. We will not cover for the police officers who are involved in the killing of Mayor Aquino.]

The National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday filed murder and frustrated murder complaints against nine police personnel for the killing of Mayor Aquino, his police escort, and driver on March 8 in Barangay Lonoy in Calbayog. The bureau was earlier asked to step in to probe the Calbayog mayor's killing after police were linked to the ambush.

A copy of the complaint shared to the media on Friday listed PLtCol Harry Villar Sucayre, PMaj Shyrille Co Tan, PCpt Dino Laurente Goles, PLt Julio Salcedo Armeza Jr., PSSg Niel Matarum Cebu, PSSg Edsel Tan Omega, as well as police officers Nino Salem, Julius Garcia and Randy Merelos, as those charged for Aquino's killing. Several John and Jane does were also included in the list.

During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, the NBI said it was convinced it was an ambush. Jerry Abiera, the regional director of the NBI-Eastern Visayas, said the suspects who wearing long sleeves, bulletproof vests, and bonnets fired at the mayor's van "alternately and systematically."

The police, however, called it a shootout. It filed two counts of murder against the late mayor's son Ronald Mark Aquino, PCpl Ramil Rosales, and several John Does.

The younger Aquino belied the police's claims. He explained that the crime scene at Labuyao Bridge, Barangay Lonoy in Calbayog was about a 15-minute drive from the resort where he was. His father was also headed there to attend his birthday celebration.