GMANews: 5 cops held over Batangas school burning

Posted by Bulatlat
May 17, 2007 – 4:19pm

The National Police on Thursday placed on restrictive custody five members of the Calabarzon Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) tagged as suspects in the burning of a school in Taysan town in Batangas province that killed a teacher and a poll watcher.

In a news conference at Camp Crame, Director Geary Barias, chief of the PNP Director for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), said the five policemen, including an officer, have been disarmed and are now restricted at Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba City in Laguna.

The team leader is said to carry the rank of Inspector.

Barias said two of the five were identified after they matched with the artists’ sketch of the suspects. Apparently, the two did not cover their faces when they stormed the Pinagbayanan Elementary School in about 3 a.m. on May 15.

“Five personnel of the RSOG 4-A under Chief Supt. (Nicasio) Radovan Jr are placed under restrictive custody because they are now suspects in the burning incident,” Barias said.

Aside from the artists’ sketch, Barias said the investigation of Special Task Group Pinagbayanan, led by acting Batangas police director, Senior Superintendent Freddie Panen, also linked the five using testimonial evidence from witnesses.

Barias said the five allegedly launched the attack in favor of incumbent Taysan Mayor Hernando Villena, who is leading against his rival, Victor Portugal Jr.

Barias said further investigation is being conducted to establish direct evidence such as the matching of the spent shells recovered to the firearms of the suspects, and direct link between
them and Villena for said activity.

He said the suspects could face the administrative charge of grave misconduct, which is penalized with dismissal from the service, and the criminal charge of arson and murder.

“If they are really responsible for this, they should suffer the consequences. It’s a heinous crime. Imagine, doing that to a teacher?” Barias said.

“We feel so very bad about this development. If indeed they are guilty, they should suffer the consequences, even if it’s the maximum penalty,” he added.

Barias said the five will be identified to the public and presented to the media until after the investigation yields there is probable cause to charge them in court.

The development clearly contradicted earlier pronouncements by PNP chief Director General Oscar Calderon who promptly accused the New People’s Army (NPA) as responsible for the incident. – GMANews.TV/(

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