LA TRINIDAD, Benguet October 12 – The provincial prosecutor’s office recommended the filing of robbery and plating of evidence charges against three personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – North Central Luzon (CIDG-NCL) after finding probable cause on the charges against them.
In a 9-page resolution, Assistant City Prosecutor Alipio George P. Bayubay, Jr. dismissed the earlier charges of illegal possession of firearms filed by the three CIDG-NCL personnel against Wilfredo Lino Paran for lack of probable cause but recommended the filing of planting of evidence and robbery against PO3 Leonard Agpad, PO3 William Mendoza and PO3 Danny Mayuga, all of the CIDG-NCL.
“Their complaint against Paran has no leg to stand on. There was no buy but to speak of. The firearms and ammunitions submitted were planted. The licensed firearms they took from Paran have not been accounted for and, for this reason; he could not also be made liable for illegal possession of firearms,” the resolution stated.
Paran was arrested by the three CIDG-NCL operatives in front of the Calajo restaurant, Km. 6 at around 7:40 am of February 5, 2015, after he allegedly sold two calibre .45 small firearms to PO3 Mayuga.
In support of their complaint, the three policemen claimed that their superior, Chief Inspector Carlos B. Lictag, called them to participate in a buy bust operation against Paran, one of those implicated in the murder of one Benjamin Untalan in 2010 and a suspected member of the Joey Severo group, whose activities include gun running, whom they learned from their confidential police informant to be looking for a buyer for his two calibre .45 pistols. Mayuga was designated as a buyer with Mendoza and Agpad as his security back up and arresting officers.
Mayuga claimed that after he was given the buy bust money in the amount of P3,000 he and the informant met Paran at the waiting shed in Km. 6 where they discussed the sale of the two firearms; he reportedly haggled for a lower price but the latter stood on his asking price of P30,000; that he slightly showed the money he brought and informed Paran that the same was short of P10,000, but will be completed the next morning in time for the sale, but Paran told him to first complete the payment before delivering the guns and that they agreed to meet at around 7 am the next day.
Mayuga stated on the agreed date while he and their informant was standing along the Halsema highway, particularly near the Dangwa compound at Km. 6, they saw Paran walking towards their direction and upon reaching them, Paran handed to him the plastic bag which he opened and upon seeing the two firearms wrapped with newspaper, immediately executed their pre-arranged signal triggering the reactions of his colleagues who effected Paran’s arrest.
Mendoza and Agpad claimed they followed Mayuga and their informant when they proceeded to Km. 6 to meet Paran for their transaction, positioning themselves at a viewing distance and they saw a male person walking towards the town proper and that they saw him talk to Mayuga and after a few minutes, handed the white plastic bag he was holding to the latter and them Mayuga executed the pre-arranged signal.
In his counter-affidavit and counter-charge, Paran denied the charge labelled against him and claimed that Mayuga, Mendoza and Agpad replaced his licensed firearms with the guns subject of the case. He claimed that a certain Junior Pacdayan, brother of his friend Filsan Pacdayan, called him on February 3, 2015 to borrow money and to ask if indeed, he was selling his firearms and that they agreed, after he confirmed the information, to meet at the Kinudayan restaurant at Km. 6 in the morning of February 4 for the prospective buyer to see and inspect the firearms, and that he subsequently got his firearms from the house of his brother then.
While holding the white plastic bag containing the box where the firearms were placed and was on his way to the restaurant, Junior Pacdayan reportedly met him in front of the Kinwayne grocery and nervously asked if he brought the guns with him and when he answered in the affirmative showing him the bag he was holding. It was at this instance that he was chocked from behind by a person who had his gun poked against his neck, and who introduced himself as a CIDG operative and as he was being frisked, another CIDG operative took the white plastic bag from him.
Paran claimed that he was dragged and brought in front of the Calajo restaurant where he was forced to face a post before he was handcuffed, and was ordered to turn around and face them and a few minutes thereafter, the bag was then opened and two unfamiliar firearms and two loaded magazines were in front of him but he protested and complained when he was directed to stand before the items for his picture to be taken because the firearms and magazines were not his and that his licensed firearms a calibre .45 and calibre .40, were substituted and replaced with the subject firearms. However, his complaints fell on deaf ears and one of the CIDG operatives kicked his left thigh when he refused to have his picture taken with the firearms displayed.
The resolution cited the presumption of regularity that the said police officers are insisting on cannot be appreciated in their statements but more importantly, their failure to observe the correct procedures or standard operating procedures in the processing of seized items or evidence.
Bayubay found the claim of Paran to be credible, citing that the failure of the police officers to present Junior Pacaayan, their alleged informant, during the two scheduled clarificatory hearings and the statements given by Mayuga relative to the value and conditions of the firearms validate his claim and that the doubt on the alleged buy bust could have been clarified had the police officers presented their informant.
According to him, the operatives were not able to present any proof on the alleged involvement of Paran in the killing of one Col. Ferdinand Macasaet on March 3, 2011 which they claimed was one of their basis in conducting the buy bust operation and that same shows they were merely fishing for pieces of evidence.
It was established that Paran’s firearms are not lose guns, they are licensed and registered and he is therefore considered a licensed citizen. For replacing the two licensed firearm and making it appear that the same were loaded when they were seized, , the police operatives are liable for planting of evidence.