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Cop in viral Valenzuela rob-slay pleads guilty

A POLICEMAN arrested in connection with a robbery-slay case in Valenzuela City last October 9 has pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of homicide during his arraignment this month and has been sentenced to jail by the court, Philippine National Police chief, General Debold M. Sinas announced yesterday.

Sinas said Corporal Michael Castro pleaded guilty during his arraignment before Judge Maria Ana Bareno-Sagay of the Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court Branch 238 and was convicted by the court official.

Under the Revised Penal Code, the penalty imposed for the crime of murder is reclusion perpetua (20 years and 1 day to 40 years, but still indivisible penalty) while for homicide, the penalty is reclusion temporal with a duration of 12 years and 1 day to 20 years.

The cop will also have to pay a total of P150,000 in civil, moral and temperate damages to the family of 39-year old Niño Luegi Hernando.

As of yesterday, Sinas said that the Valenzuela City Police headed by Colonel Fernando R. Ortega have already accounted for three suspects in the Hernando case and are still tracking down at least six other suspects.

“There are more suspects to be charged in connection with this case. I also want to showcase the solution of this case which we shall use as a template in all our other future or ongoing investigations. This actually is a classic case of successful police investigation,” Sinas said as he commended Ortega and his men for solving the case.

A 31-year-old woman tagged as the alleged ‘brains’ behind the rob-slay case, Jo-anne Cabatuan, also confessed her involvement in the crime and identified three other suspects.

According to Sinas, Cabatuan named one Rowena Rubio, detained rape suspect Henry Rubio and Liezel Rubio, a live-in partner of Narciso Santiago who was one of the previously identified suspects as among the other personalities behind the gruesome crime.

Apart from Santiago, also being hunted are Rico Reyes and dismissed Police Officer 1 Anthony Cubos.

The crime was believed to have been hatched by the Rubios and Cabatuan in order to get back at the victim who was responsible for the jailing of Henry Rubio for a rape case.

Sinas ordered his successor at the National Capital Region Police Office, Brigadier Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr., the Northern Police District headed by Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz and Ortega to leave no stone unturned in the investigation of the case and in pursuing the suspects.

Valenzuela City policemen last December 1 arrested Cabatuan in her hiding place in Minalin, Pampanga on the strength of a warrant of arrest for robbery with homicide issued by Judge Sagay.

Castro alias ‘Sir Gerry’ surrendered to the PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement after feeling the heat of a massive hunt ordered by Sinas when he was still the NCRPO chief, the Journal Group learned.

Castro, a former member of the NPD District Drug Enforcement Unit signed an extra-judicial confession in the presence of his lawyer detailing his knowledge on the rob-slay case and tagged Cubos as their alleged ‘mastermind.’

Citing a report from the NPD, Sinas said that so far, they have identified Rico Sabujo Reyes alias ‘Ojam-Ojam,’21; one Narcisco Santiago alias’ Tukmol,’37; one Edgar Batchar,43; and Castro as the main suspects in the rob-slay case.

Batchar is also under custody by the local police.

Batchar gave an extra-judicial confession in the presence of his lawyer identifying his cohorts in the case.

The suspect identified the driver of the black Montero as a certain ‘Sir Gerry’ who turned out to be Castro while the SUV’s passenger was one ‘Anthony Cubos’ who was described as an ex-policeman residing in Meycauayan City.

Shortly after the killing, the suspect said they met a the house of Cubos where he was given at P30,000 share.

All suspects as well as several John and Jane Does were charged with murder, robbery and violation of Republic Act 10883 or the anti-carnapping act before a Valenzuela City Prosecutor’s Office.

Shortly after the video of the killing of Niño Luegi Hernando went viral last October, the then NCRPO chief ordered then NPD director, Brig. Gen. Ronaldo Genaro E. Ylagan and the Valenzuela City Police Station to fully investigate the case..

As a result, Ylagan ordered the creation of the Special Investigation Task Group Hernando to spearhead the probe into the case and identify and arrest all suspects in the killing of the latter, a messenger/collector of Silver Fox Business Management Solution Inc. residing in Barangay Parada, Valenzuela City.

An investigation showed that at around 3:30 p.m. last October 9, the victim was driving his blue Yamaha NMAX to deliver the P442,714.00 payroll of their company in Maysan Road in Valenzuela City.

However, two suspects riding a mint green Yamaha Mio motorcycle with its plate number covered with a cloth suddenly appeared from behind and the back-rider immediately shot the victim in the body thrice causing him to fall on the cemented pavement.

The CCTV footage showed the two suspects alighting from their motorbike before the gunman again shot the victim in the head before stealing his motorcycle. The other suspect grabbed the victim’s sling bag containing the money.

Both fled towards Maysan Road and later abandoned the victim’s motorcycle in Bgy. Lawa in Meycauayan City in Bulacan, said Ortega.

The incident infuriated Sinas who ordered an all-out operation to get the killers. The breakthrough in the investigation came when several netizens posted photographs and videos of the incident on Facebook triggering another post about a mint green Yamaha Mio which was identical to the killer’s getaway.