Court orders arrest of 2 Coast Guard men

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A CAGAYAN court has ordered the arrest of two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officers charged for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman off the coast of Batanes in May last year.

The arrest warrants issued by the Sta. Ana Municipal Trial Court Branch 11 are for Coast Guard Commanding Officer Arnold dela Cruz and Seaman First Class Mhelvin Bendo, who were accused of obstruction of justice.

Dela Cruz and Bendo, who have to post P12,000 bail to avoid arrest, allegedly came up with a falsified monthly gunnery reports to reflect a smaller amount of ammunition used (36 rounds of ammunition instead of 108) during the shooting, which stemmed from PCG's suspicion that the Taiwanese attempted to escape apprehension after they were supposedly caught poaching in Philippine waters.

The two were also charged with homicide before the Batanes Regional Trial Court, along with Seamen First Class Edrando Aguila, Andy Gibb Golfo, Sunny Masangcay, Henry Solomon, Seaman Second Class Nicky Aurello, and Petty Officer Richard Corpuz.

Hong shi-cheng was killed aboard the Guang Da Xing No. 28 due to a gunshot wound to the neck, which was caused by a bullet from a firearm traced as having been fired by Aguila.

In a resolution released last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said it found no evidence to indicate or prove that the Taiwanese boat posed an imminent or grave danger to the Coast Guard men, who were onboard MCS-3001, a patrol ship owned by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The May 9, 2013 incident triggered months-long diplomatic tension between Manila and Taipei, which even slapped economic sanctions that affected more than 6,000 Filipinos whose employment contracts had not been renewed. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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