HPG officials must explain why suspects disappeared

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Friday, December 19, 2014


CEBU Gov. Hilario Davide III said Camp Crame officials have to explain why Highway Patrol Group (HPG) officials who were accused of killing lawyer Noel Archival and his two aides are no longer in their custody.

Davide said he would like to request police authorities to cooperate with the prosecution for the speedy resolution of the case.

“Atty. Archival was a friend. I knew him. The officials of Camp Crame should explain.

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The HPG officers involved in the case were assigned there. How come they disappeared
when the warrant was served?,” said Davide.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 launched a nationwide manhunt for the three former HPG officials who were allegedly involved in the crime.

NBI is now looking for Senior Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion and PO1 Alex Bacani.

“They (Camp Crame) have to account for the disappearance of these three police officers,” Davide said.

Davide said he was saddened by the report.

Last February, Archival and his aide, Edu Mendoza died on the spot after the lawyer’s car was ambushed.

Archival’s driver Alejandro Jaime did not make it alive when he was brought to a hospital in Cebu City.

The lone survivor of the shooting incident was the lawyer’s other aide Paolo Cortes.

The prosecution feared that the trial will not happen anytime soon.

“If they have no sin, why they are afraid to face trial?” said lawyer Democrito
Barcenas. “Flight is a sign of guilt.”

Iglesia, Lerion, and Bacani are facing multiple murder and frustrated murder charges before the sala of Argao Regional Trial Court Judge Maximo Perez.

The court rules state that the accused must be arraigned before a full-blown trial can be conducted.

There is no arraignment when there is no accused present in court, said Barcenas.

The lawyer said that Lerion’s lawyer, Inocencio de la Cerna Jr., “did not tell the truth” to the court during a hearing last Nov. 27, when the latter said his client and the other accused were still in Camp Crame.

De la Cerna, for his part, said he was telling the truth that time. He said the former HPG 7 officers were not arrested at PHAS.

“They were only restricted there,” he said in a phone interview.

Even if there was no arrest warrant issued yet against the three accused, he said the prosecution should have asked the court to let PHAS report about the status of the three accused on a regular basis.

“The prosecution did not perform their duty to check the status of the restricted officers,” said de la Cerna. “We are under oath to protect the interest of our clients, but we are not our clients’ keepers.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 20, 2014.

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