2 Bilibid convicts behind grisly killing of ex-Batangas solon – PNP

Robie de Guzman   •   January 23, 2020   •   348

MANILA, Philippines – Two convicts detained at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) allegedly orchestrated the grisly killing of former Batangas Representative Edgar Mendoza and his two aides, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday.

PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director Brig. Gen. Joel Coronel identified the principal suspect as Sherwin Sanchez, who has been imprisoned since 2015 for murder charges.  

Investigation revealed that Sanchez was a client of Mendoza, a lawyer who handled his transactions concerning financial and properties.

Sanchez did not pay Mendoza for his services after the former was convicted.

Sanchez allegedly conspired with his fellow detainee, Arthur Fajardo, to have Mendoza killed.

Fajardo, a member of the Fajardo kidnap-for-ransom group who has been detained at the state penitentiary since 2005, then contacted his wife, Jael, who allegedly hired the killers.

Mendoza and his companions, bodyguard Nicanor Mendoza and driver Ruel Ruiz, were found burnt inside the former solon’s car in Tiaong, Quezon Province on January 9.

The day before they were killed, Mendoza and his aides went to the home of the family of Fajardo in Calamba, Laguna supposedly to collect a sum of money owed by Sanchez.

“Apparently, on the day he disappeared, and later on found dead, he was supposed to collect a sum of money from representatives of the principal suspect in Calamba,” Coronel said.

Investigation showed that Sanchez and Mendoza had disagreements on the amount for his legal services but later agreed on a sum amounting to millions of pesos.

However, Sanchez had no intention of paying the amount from the start and instead hired some gunmen to kill Mendoza. He allegedly contracted the killers for the sum of P100,000.

“There was a disagreement on the amount to be collected and also base on the revelations of the witnesses and some of the suspects’ confession, there was really no intention on the part of the suspect to the amount agreed by them,” Coronel said.

Police identified Sanchez and Fajardo’s cohorts as Jael Fajardo, Arthur’s wife; Madonna Palermo, Jael’s household worker; Kristine Fernandez, Jael’s errand runner; Carlo Acuña and Erickson Balbastro who were said to be members of the Fajardo kidnap-for-ransom group.

The five suspects were arrested by authorities on January 22.

Police found that prior to their murder, Mendoza and his aides were drugged with coffee laced with sleeping pills while they were in Fajardo’s home. They were later stabbed and struck in the head with a hard object.

The three victims were already dead when their remains were brought and burned in Tiaong, based on Balbastro’s statement.

Coronel said the suspects’ target was only Mendoza and that the two aides were “collateral damage.”

Police said they are hunting down a certain Rodel Mercado, said to be the one who stabbed and struck the victims.

PNP chief Archie Gamboa said three counts of murder have been filed against the suspects.

“This case is considered solved and it is now elevated in the prosecution office arm of the justice system,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

DILG says cops on ‘narco-list’ who opted to retire early not spared from probe, charges

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said that cops included in the narco-list who opted to file for optional retirement will not be exonerated from criminal charges if they are found to be involved in the illegal drug trade.

Año made the statement Wednesday after some members of the opposition group slammed reports on the move of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to give the 357 cops included in the narco-list the option to retire early to reduce the cases for adjudication.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa earlier said he is open to optional retirement of police officers accused of having drug links to lessen the government resources that will be used when the adjudication begins.

He, however, asserted that the early retirement won’t clear the cops from allegations and that this is not an easy way out.

He added that any officer who initially availed of the early retirement option will be pursued if proven to be involved in the narcotics trade.

Gamboa recently met with most of the 357 cops and explained to them the process of the two-way adjudication to be initiated based on his request to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The process involves adjudication at the regional and directorial level for one week before the cases go to the national level which will handle the cases for three weeks.

Once all the cases are submitted to the Office of the PNP Chief, it will take three days for him to submit the results of the adjudication for approval.

Año said the 357 cops accused of having drug links should present proof to remove their names from the narco-list.

“Patunayan nilang wala silang kaugnayan sa iligal na droga. Nasa kanila ang burden of proof, iprisinta nila ang mga ebidensya na magpapatunay na wala silang kinalaman at kaugnayan sa iligal na droga,” he said.

The DILG chief said the evidence should be presented to four agencies handling illegal drug reports – the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Hanggang hindi nagkakaroon ng pagkakasundo ang apat na ahensyang ito, hangga’t hindi nila sinasabi ng ‘Okay na yan’, magpapatuloy ang imbestigasyon,” he said.

The narco-list is a consolidation of intelligence and other reports from law-enforcement agencies and still needs to be verified and validated. Aside from uniformed personnel, the list also includes local officials and judges as well as other personalities.

Once a complaint is filed, it can be validated within a month, Año said.

He also said that the final clearance will come from the President. 

“Gusto nating maparusahan ang mga may kaugnayan sa iligal na droga” Año said. “I commend PNP Chief Gamboa for having the courage in resolving this issue na matagal ng burden ng PNP. We need to deal with this para makapagtrabaho na nang matino ang ating mga pulis,” he added.

PNP to begin crackdown after receiving list of illegal gambling operators

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 19, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is set to begin crackdown operations after receiving the list of illegal gambling operators.

PGen. Archie Gamboa said the list is now in the hands of the regional directors and the PNP is already in the process of launching police operations.

Gamboa also said that police commanders will be relieved from office if they fail to accomplish their responsibilities.

“In the next few months, heads will roll if you don’t follow my instruction no-take and you’re not doing anything to stop illegal gambling,” he said.

Last week, the PNP Chief already relieved several local police officials for not curbing illegal gambling in their assigned areas.

They include 10 precinct and station commanders as well as chiefs of police in Metro Manila. —AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Espenido to face probe for speaking out on drug list inclusion

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 19, 2020

Police Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will conduct an investigation on Police Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido for speaking out on his inclusion in the drug watchlist.

PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa said that he will handle the issue internally.

“Leave it to us. It’s purely an internal issue. I will deal with Espenido squarely as the Chief PNP and he being a member of the PNP,” he said.

Gamboa said that the PNP has a general instruction to over 300 policemen included in the narco list to remain mum on the issue especially when the adjudication process is still ongoing.

Espenido, on Tuesday (February 18), denied his involvement in drugs and said that there was a failure in the intel on the drug watchlist.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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