May 21, 2024

Top officers and personnel of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera and Abra police are facing murder charges in relation to the Pilar, Abra standoff involving armed men and the police leaving one dead on March 29.

The National Bureau of Investigation also filed before the Department of Justice on April 28 a perjury case and incriminating an innocent person against the police officers.

The NBI, as cited by the national media, filed charges against PRO-Cor Director, B/Gen. Ronald Lee; Abra Police Provincial Director, Col. Maly Cula; Abra Provincial Intelligence Unit Chief, Lt/Col. Melencio Mina; Pilar-MPS Acting Chief, Cpt. Ronald Eslabra; Comelec Election Officer Rodrigo Basa II and other personnel of Regional Mobile Force Battalion 15; and several unidentified personnel of Pilar MPS, Provincial Intelligence Unit and Abra PPO.

The charges came after investigation done by the NBI-National Capital Region revealed the convoy of Pilar Vice Mayor Jaja Disono was deliberately fired upon by the involved police officers.

The Abra police earlier claimed Disono’s convoy did not stop at a Comelec checkpoint along Berona Street, Pilar, which sparked the shootout. However, the NBI said based on the CCTV footage they have gathered, it showed there were no visible checkpoints at the area at the time.   

Also, the NBI said the PNP claimed that its police vehicle marked “557” was fired upon by one of the passengers of Disono’s convoy but based on the CCTV footage gathered by the bureau, the police mobile marked “557” was seen pursuing the target van without a bullet hole and suddenly stopped pursuing the van.

The NBI said minutes later, the same police vehicle “suddenly showed up with an evident bullet hole in the front passenger.”

The NBI’s investigation stemmed from a complaint filed by Pilar Mayor Mark Ronald Somera, his sister Disono, and the sister of the deceased victim Sandee Bermudo, the latter is the security aide of Disono who died at the scene.

When asked for comment, PRO-Cor Information Officer Capt. Marnie Abellanida said his office has not yet received the case filed by the NBI.

“We will give our official statement once we receive a copy of the case,” Abellanida said.

Earlier, the PNP filed a case of violation of Republic Act 9208 as amended by RA 10364 or the “expanded trafficking in person act” against Somera and Disono.

The Abra PPO stated the case is in connection with the surrender of the 12 former military men whom they employed as personal security aides after the stand-off at the compound of Somera/Disono Family.

Also, facing charges of serious disobedience to an agent or person in authority are Robert Toreno and Emmanuel Valera, both employees of the Pilar municipal government and Disono’s helper Jericho Bufil.

The police said they are the ones who allegedly disregarded the PNP and Commission on Elections spot checkpoint.

Bufil is also facing a case of multiple attempted murder for allegedly firing at the pursuing police personnel during the standoff. – Ofelia C. Empian