IMEG-7: Criminal charges vs Sawang 11 up to prosecutor, admin raps to continue
CEBU CITY, Philippines — After the death of vital witness Ritchie “Miles” Nepomuceno, the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group in Central Visayas (IMEG-7) now leaves to the prosecutor’s office to decide whether to proceed with or drop the criminal charges raised by Nepomuceno against the 11 police officers of the Sawang Calero Police Station.
Nepomuceno has filed rape, robbery, and extortion cases against the Sawang policemen.
Police Major Alejandro Batobalonos, chief of IMEG-7, said that it will be up to the prosecutor’s discretion to continue or drop the cases after Nepomuceno was gunned down by still unidentified suspects on Monday evening.
Three hours after Nepomuceno was ambushed, one of the 11 cops, Police Staff Sergeant Celso Colita committed suicide while undergoing internal investigation at the RPDEU headquarters inside the Police Regional Office-7 compound.
“Ang criminal nato na file na sa katong 11 pero siguro ang mudecide na ana kay ang atong prosecutor kay naa pamay nabilin nga 10 respondents although nawala naman atoang vital witness which is our victim,” Batobalonos said.
Batobalonos revealed that they will proceed with the filing of administrative charges against the remaining 10 policemen. He, however, admitted that the death of Nepomuceno significantly weakened their case.
“Sa administrative aspect naman nato na file-an na nato sa Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS-7). We’ll pursue the case whatever happens, whatever results come out. Medyo nihuyang jod amoang kaso because of this incident wherein the victim, Ritchie Nepomuceno was our vital witness,” Batobalonos added.
Witness Protection Program (WPP)
Batobalonos said that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) offered Nepomuceno a slot in the government’s Witness Protection Program but she was not able to avail it because of the long application process.
So to ensure Nepomuceno’s safety, Batobalonos said that their team offered to fetch and return the complainant to her home every time they need her to sign documents. However, Batobalonos said that Nepomuceno’s personal errands are not covered by this arrangement.
“Once mugawas siya, amo siyang kuhaon, amo sad siya nga ihatod kung pananglitan naa siyay permahan. Mao rana among gibuhat. Wa siyay protection sa personal niya nga lakaw,”
Batobalonos also said that Nepomuceno was secretive and extra careful of her exact location as she would constantly change her drop-off areas.
“Ang iyang style gud, magpa drop siya, magpa pick-up, sa daplin sa kalsada. Makig communicate nalang siya sa driver nga naa ko dri gahuwat ug didto sad namo siya i drop,”
Drug lord connection
Batobalonos also said that Nepomuceno admitted that she had an affair with a drug lord who is currently detained in the Cebu City Jail. She also said that she tried to break up with him but he instead threatened to kill her.
Batobalonos added that based on the statement of Nepomuceno’s husband, a certain Danilo, she texted him to make amends.
On the same day, April 19, Batobalonos said that Nepomuceno was scheduled for an examination in the Pink Room.
Around 8 a.m., Batobalonos said that they fetched Nepomuceno in Barangay Basak-Pardo for her examination. The examination was done a bit late since the victim had a hard time deciding whether or not to take a swab test. The examination ended around 5 p.m. already. Once they were done with it, Batobalonos said that they accompanied Nepomuceno back to Barangay Basak-Pardo. After dropping her off and when they were already a few kilometers away from the drop-off area, the shooting incident happened.
According to Batobalonos, witnesses accounts revealed that the victim was standing by the road apparently waiting for someone.
He theorized that maybe they were followed since Monday morning and the hitman only sought the perfect timing to shoot the victim. He added that Nepomuceno was aware that her life is in danger which is why she also coordinated with them. /rcg
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