By Ali G. Macabalang
All five cops suspected in the kidnap-slay in Nueva Ecija of female Meranaw online seller have been arrested, even as the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) rallied surging demand for swift justice in the incident.
Latest media reports said Senior Master Sgt. Rowen Martin, 41, of San Leonardo town police station, surrendered on Thursday, Aug. 5 in the wake of stern order by PNP Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar for a manhunt of all cop-suspects, their summary dismissal and prosecution leading to conviction.
This developed as NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan dispatched his Northern Luzon-based team to Nueva Ecija also on Tuesday get updates on punitive sanctions against the five suspected cops and two civilians over the kidnap-slay of Nadia Casar, 35, a Muslim online seller, Commission spokesman Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos said.
Cabanatuan City Police Chief Lt. Col. Julius Caezar Manucdoc, briefed the NCMF team on their investigation status including the surrender of Sgt. Martin in the company of lawyer Sheila Gatchalian, it was learned.
Bringing two relatives of slain Casar from Cavite, the NCMF team led by Regional Director Raihanah Macarimpas, a lawyer, and Administrative Services Director Abdullah Macarimpas also met Nueva Ecija Provincial Director Police Col. Jaime Santos, Datu Ramos said.
Sgt. Martin and four other cops – Staff Sgt. Benedict Matias Reyes of Sta. Rosa Municipal police station, Staff Sgt. June Malillin, of the Palayan City police Station; Cpl. Julius Alcantara, of the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office’s Drug Enforcement Unit, and Staff Sgt. Drextemir Esmundo of the Cabiao Municipal Police Station – were identified as suspects in the brutal incident by a witness.
The witness also identified two civilian suspects – Dario Robarios, who was earlier arrested, and Franklin Macapagal, who had reportedly contacted Caras in the guise of buying an online offered item.
Some media reports said all five cop suspects have been placed “under custody” pending their dismissal proceedings and prosecution before the Department of Justice as ordered by Gen. Eleazar. The PNP chief had earlier vowed to personally see to it that the five cops will be dismissed from service and prosecuted.
But a Philippine News Agency report said Thursday that Macapagal and Sgt. Esmundo remained at large.
Authorities said Casar and a Grab driver she hired were kidnapped by armed men at around 1:45 p.m. on July 20 in Barangay Tagpos, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija. The Grab driver was robbed of his cellular phone and P4,500 cash, and released by their captors the next day.
SOCO operatives discovered the burnt body of Casar from a shallow grave at Sitio Pinagpala in Barangay Imelda Valley, Palayan City at around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 1, reports said.
Amid viral condemnations in social media channels, Gen. Eleazar promptly ordered a manhunt, summary dismissal prosecution, and filing of criminal cases against the five cops, saying the suspects deserved to “rot in jail.”
Some netizens including veteran journalists demanded the stiffest punishments against the seven suspects, including death penalty if possible.
Datu Ramos said Secretary Pangarungan and other NCMF officials have assured to closely coordinate with the chief PNP and field police officials and ensure dispensation of justice on Caras, whom some supporters believed to have been raped before killed, burned and buried.
The NCMF team, which included Atty. Nor-ainah Daragangan, Cultural Division Chief Monadatu Datumanong, staff Sheik Acmad Pundogar, Ali Jefferson Beronio and Saad Muripaga, lauded the cordial reception of field police officials during its visit, Datu Ramos said.
It also acknowledged the assistance of Nueva Ecija Muslim Association Officers led by Pres. Latiph Malambut, and other concerned supporters from Pampanga, and other areas of North Luzon, he said. (AGM)