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TF indicts cops in death of 1 of 9 activists in ‘Bloody Sunday’ operations

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said the Department of Justice’s Administrative Order 35 Task Force-Special Investigating Team  (AO 35-SIT) has endorsed the conduct of  a preliminary investigation for possible filing of murder charges against 17 law enforcers believed to be involved in one of the nine deaths during the so-called “Bloody Sunday” police operations against suspected New People’s Army members last March 7 in the Calabarzon region.

Guevarra was referring to the death of mass organizer  and secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Cavite Emmanuel Asuncion.

Asuncion was shot dead by policemen at the office of the Workers’ Assistance Center (WAC) in Dasmariñas, Cavite, although the search warrant issued  by Manila Judge Jose Lorenzo dela Rosa, was for his house in nearby Rosario town.

The warrant covered Asuncion’s home in Rosario, Cavite, where he was allegedly keeping a .45 caliber pistol and ammunition.

Police later said they were able to recover some items  during the raid.

“In the case of the death of Emmanuel Asuncion, the AO 35 special investigating team has recommended the filing of murder charges against certain law enforcement agents involved in the incident,” Guevarra said.

Among the policemen subpoenaed to attend the preliminary investigation on January 11 and 25, 2022 to be conducted at the Office of the City Prosecutor of Dasmarinas City, Cavite were Police Lieutenants Elbert Santos and Shay Jed Sapitula, PSMS (Police Senior Master Sergeant) Hector Cardinals, PMSG (Police Master Sergeant) Ariel dela Cruz, PSSG (Police Senior Staff Sergeant), Joemark Sajul, Police Corporals  Ernie Ambuyoc, Mark John Defiesta, Arjay Garcia,. Caidar Dimacangun, Bryan Sanchez and Ericson Lucido, Patrolmen. Jayson Maala, Juanito Plite, Jonathan Tatel, Prince Benjamin Torres,  Jaime Turingan and  Lopera Rey PJ Dacara.

The task force was created under Administrative Order 35 issued in 2013 to investigate extrajudicial and politically motivated killings as well as human-rights violations in the country.

The members of the task force are the DOJ—as the lead agency- the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Meanwhile, Guevarra said the NBI is wrapping up its interviews of witnesses in the case of the deaths of couple Chai and Ariel Evangelista, who are members of the Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan.

The Evangelista spouses were among those killed during the Bloody Sunday operations.

“In the case of the death of the Evangelista spouses, the NBI is winding up its interviews of witnesses, and the SIT report will be out in about two weeks,” Guevarra said.

However, Guevarra said the task force did not look into the circumstances behind the death of cousins Puroy and Randy dela Cruz “as no cause-oriented connection was established.”

The two were both were Indigenous People’s rights advocates and among those killed last March 7.

Guevarra said other SIT investigations are still ongoing.

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