MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the filing of murder charges against a police colonel and four others for the killing of a Filipino-Chinese businesswoman whose body was found in a septic tank in Laguna last Feb. 22.
In a 14-page resolution issued yesterday, investigating fiscals found probable cause to indict Superintendent Rommel Miranda, former spokesman of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and now deputy chief of the Communication and Electronics Service of Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 7 based in Cebu City; PO1s Otelio Santos Jr. and Jifford Signap, Reginel Regidor Santiago and Elmer Paiste.
The DOJ cited as main basis the extra-judicial confession made by Santiago, who detailed his participation in the killing of businesswoman Lea Angeles Ng with the help of Signap and Santos and tagged Miranda as the alleged mastermind.
“There is sufficient evidence that the crime of murder, qualified by taking advantage of superior strength, was committed by the respondents,” stated the resolution signed by the investigating panel chaired by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.
“While respondent Miranda denied the allegations leveled against him, his defense is weak and evidentiary in nature. Verily, such defense is best appreciated only during full blown trial,” the panel said.
But the DOJ dismissed for lack of probable cause the charge of kidnapping for ransom with homicide against the respondents.
“In this present case, there are no evidence presented to prove that there was intent on the part of respondents to deprive (the victim) of her liberty. Neither are there evidence showing that she was indeed deprived of her liberty by the respondents before she died,” it said.
The fiscals dismissed as insufficient the claim of Ng’s husband Tommy that he received from Feb. 20 to 22 calls and messages from an unknown person demanding P10 million in exchange for his wife’s freedom.
“To our mind, the demand for ransom was not intended as a bargaining chip for the release of (the victim) since evidence disclosed that she was already dead at that time it was demanded,” they said.
The complaint was filed against Miranda and the other respondents before the DOJ last Feb. 24.
Miranda denied the allegations during the preliminary investigation, describing these as “false imputation of a sinister motive to implicate me in her (Ng’s) death, worse as the alleged mastermind-conspirator in her alleged kidnapping for ransom with homicide.”
Miranda cited his record as a police officer with “character, personality, integrity and devotion to duty, my love of God, country, people and the police organization that I serve with utmost loyalty.”
After Santiago cooperated with police investigators, Santos and Signap gave themselves up to the authorities.
The decomposing remains of Ng were discovered in a septic tank at an abandoned warehouse in San Vicente, San Pedro, Laguna last Feb. 22.
She was last seen at the UCC restaurant in Corinthian village in Quezon City on Jan. 20 this year. On Jan. 25, Ng’s vehicle was seen at a mall in Carmona, Cavite. Footage from a closed-circuit TV camera showed three police officers near the car.
Santiago came under investigation and pointed to the area where Ng’s body was kept. He alleged that Miranda, who had served as Ng’s debt collector for several years, killed her over a squabble over a P13-million collection that Miranda supposedly wanted to keep for himself.
Santiago also confessed that Miranda allegedly ordered him and two fellow respondents to throw away Ng’s body after she was slain. - By Edu Punay