8 Coast Guard men ordered arrested

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A LOCAL court has ordered the arrest of eight members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) who were blamed for the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman off the coast of Batanes last year.

Facing arrest for homicide are Coast Guard Commander Arnold Dela Cruz, Seaman Second Class Nicky Aurello, Seamen First Class Edrando Aguila, Mhelvyn Bendo III Andy Gibb Glofo, Sunny Masangkay and Henry Solomon and Petty Officer 2 Richard Corpuz.

"The undersigned Presiding Judge personally examined the records of the case and found the Certification of the Investigating Prosecutors finding probable cause against the accused for the crime charged to have sufficient factual and legal basis," Judge Ramon Barona of the Basco, Batanes Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 13 said in an order dated April 7.

The court set a P40,000 bail for each of the accused.

Arrest warrants were also issued last week by the Sta. Ana Municipal Trial Court branch 11 in Cagayan against dela Cruz and Bendo for obstruction of justice.

Despite the latest arrest warrant issued against some of its men, the PCG leadership remained supportive of its personnel involved in the incident.

PCG acting Public Affairs chief Commander Geny Basilio said the PCG has not received a copy of the arrest orders issued by the Batanes RTC.

"We haven't received yet the arrest order and once it is delivered here, their lawyers would immediately file a motion for recognizance and once it is granted by the court, then we would gain their custody but if not, they will be directed to file post bail," Basilio said.

Basilio said the eight PCG members are currently under restricted custody in their mother unit, the Coast Guard Fleet.

Fisherman Hong shi-cheng was killed on May 9, 2013 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 (BFAR).

The Taiwanese were suspected of poaching in the Balintang Channel. (With John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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