By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The police’s insistence on taking custody of the personal belongings of slain National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Malayao is meant to fish information about the Left and not to resolve his murder.
This said Atty. Edu Balgos of the National Union of Peoples Lawyer (NUPL) and Cristina Palabay of Karapatan in separate statements.
Balgos was charged on Feb. 6 for grave threats, grave coercion and obstruction of justice because of his role in retrieving the laptop, telephones and the rest of Malayao’s belongings from the Nueva Vizcaya police.
Perla Urpano, Malayao’s sister and Rina Balgos, Edu’s wife were also included in the same charges for taking what the Nueva Vizcaya police describes as material evidence that would help solve Malayao’s murder.
Malayao was shot dead at dawn on Jan. 30 as he slept inside an Isabela-bound bus that made a pit stop at the Nueva Vizcaya town of Aritao.
The police released Malayao’s property to his family at midnight of Jan. 30, for which Nueva Vizcaya police director, Senior Supt. Jeremias Aglugub, and Aritao police chief, Chief. Insp. Geovanni Cejes, were sacked for mishandling the investigation. Cejes filed the complaints against the Balgos couple and Urpano, a day before Malayao was buried on February 7 at the San Pablo cemetery.
Balgos said the complaints filed against them by the sacked chief of police of Nueva Vizcaya are “baseless accusations”.
“I dare the police to site a law that says that the police have rights over the personal belongings of a victim of a crime they are investigating on,” Balgos said.
The Balgoses helped Malayao’s family to claim his personal belongings.
“Let us not forget that Randy Malayao is the victim here, his family is still grieving and the PNP is putting unnecessary pressure on them,” he added.
Balgos pointed out that the police willingly released Malayao’s belongings. “Randy was killed at 2 a.m. [on Jan. 30]. His remains had been brought home to Isabela, but his family stayed to assert their right to his personal belongings until the police gave in at around midnight,” he said.
Section 1 and 2 of the Bill of Rights state that a slain victim’s nearest kin is entitled to his or her properties, Balgos said, but the police can take these items back once they have filed a criminal complaint against Malayao’s killers.
In an emailed statement, Cristina Palabay, secretary general Karapatan reiterated that the police is “deflecting accountability” on the killing of Malayao.
“The police officers yielded precisely because it is within the right of Malayao’s family to obtain possession of his personal effects. The police knew they were not in any position to withhold these items,” Palabay said.
Palabay said what happened in the Malayao case is similar to that of the Sagay 9 massacre. She added that the police also chose to run after the lawyer assisting the Sagay massacre victims and weeks later Atty. Benjamin Ramos, the victims’ lawyers was gunned down.
“It is ironic that the police accuse others of possibly tampering with evidence, when the police have done so incessantly. The PNP has a long tradition of planting, compromising, contaminating and manufacturing evidence to fit their fictional inventions,” Palabay said.
Meanwhile, NUPL national president Atty. Edre Olalia said the police and those investigating Malayao’s murder “are acting again like keystone cops of the early 1900s.”
He also raised questions on how the authorities are handling the investigation.
“How could an investigation be credible and competent when preconceived and biased inflexible conclusions come before the facts and premises? Did they at least ever get to watch tv on even stereotypical investigative cases at all?” he said. # nordis.net