CA affirms 2012 EJK case in Cagayan a 'rubout'

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed its earlier decision which found a former Abra police chief guilty of grave misconduct for the deaths of 5 suspected hitmen in Cagayan in 2012.

The CA's Special Former 12th Division denied the appeal by former Abra provincial police director Alexander Rafael which sought the reversal of a January 2018 decision by the appellate court that found him and another cop guilty of the administrative offense.

The CA has effectively upheld twice the initial decision by the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing the policemen from office for grave misconduct.

"After careful consideration of the motion, we find that the arguments raised therein are not novel and a mere rehash of the issues and arguments presented in their previous pleadings, which we have adequately passed upon in our decision dated January 5, 2018," the CA said in a 3-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Ramon Cruz.

Rafael and Senior Police Officer III Marino Manuel filed the appeals.

Rafael and Manuel were part of a team of cops who claimed they shot 5 men in Lal-lo, Cagayan, out of self-defense. The cops claimed the 5 men were suspected members of a gun-for-hire group allegedly on their way to an assassination in Tuguegarao City.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) concluded in 2012 that the deaths were cases of extrajudicial killings. The CHR assisted in the filing of murder charges against Rafael, according to a Philstar.com report.

In upholding its earlier findings, the CA pointed out that even though the men had previous criminal records and were carrying guns at the time of their deaths, facts still lead to the conclusion that it was a "rubout."

"The autopsy reports of the bodies of Michael Bermudez, Nomer Biendima, Isabelo George Bernal II, Leonardo Apolinario Jr, and Daniel Villamor revealed tattooing and shrapnel injuries suggesting that they were shot at close range – another fact consistent with the theory of rubout instead of shootout," the CA ruled. – Rappler.com