By Rey Panaligan
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal cases against Calabarzon police regional director Brig. Gen. Edward Carranza and 22 other police officers for the death last year of Richard Santillan, aide of former Biliran congressman and now senatorial candidate Glenn Chong, and his companion, Gessamyn Casing.
Carranza, Rizal provincial director Col. Lou Evangelista and Cainta police chief Lt. Col. Pablito Naganag were charged with obstruction of justice in a complaint signed by NBI Deputy Director for Investigation Vicente De Guzman III.
The NBI filed two counts of murder and one count of planting of evidence against seven officers from Cainta police station led by Lt. Sandro Ortega, four officers from provincial office of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group led by Capt. John Russel Barnacha and 10 operatives of Regional Special Operations Unit led by M/Sgt. Rene Eufracio.
The two counts of murder arose from the death of Santillan and Casing last December 9.
After investigation and based on the results of its forensic examination, the NBI concluded that the incident was a rubout and not a shootout as claimed by the police officers.
It said there was treachery in the killing, a key element of murder, since Santillan and Casing were unarmed.
“Truth be told, Santillan and Casing were continuously fired upon by surrounding heavily armed police officers resulting in multiple gunshot wounds to the different parts of their bodies, which caused their deaths. Needless to say, Santillan and Casing were like sitting ducks overwhelmingly vulnerable to attack and clearly unable to protect their lives,” the complaint stated.
Earlier, Carranza and his men had claimed that the incident last December was part of their legitimate police operations against the so-called “Highway Boys” involved in drug trade, carnapping, robbery and killings in Floodway in Cainta.
They claimed that the police operatives spotted the unregistered Toyota Fortuner that was supposedly being used by the syndicate in its operations, which at that time was being driven by Santillan.
They alleged they tried to flag down the vehicle but Santillan sped off resulting in a chase. When Santillan filed at the operates, they said they were forced to retaliate.
But the NBI complaint stated that witnesses testified that they “ did not see the occupants of the vehicle fired any shot towards the police officers because the windows of the SUV were closed the entire time.”
Also, the complaint stated that one of the witnesses testified that a female voice was heard from the vehicle shouting: “Hindi po ako, wala akong alam (Not me, I know nothing).”
On forensic investigation, the NBI complaint stated that “the examination conducted on the clothes and the hands of the victims rendered negative results as to the presence of gunpowder nitrates.”
It also pointed out that investigation showed that Santillan only went to Cainta for his annual gift-giving activity for impoverished children.
“The concerted acts of the above police officers, before, during and after the death of (Santillan and Casing), indubitably show causal relation, thus pointing to a joint purpose, a unity of action and a community of interest – to kill Santillan and Casing,” the complaint stressed.
In the case of Carranza, the NBI complaint stated that he is liable for obstruction of justice “by disseminating false information in the Senate hearing, even purporting, under oath, that the said shooting incident was legitimate.”
The complaint also stated that Evangelista and Naganag “committed the crime of obstruction of justice by fabricating information surrounding the shooting incident which led to the death of Santillan and Casing.”