Four (4) months after she was last seen alive by her family, and three (3) months after her decomposing body was found dumped inside a septic tank in a compound in San Pedro, Laguna, criminal charges have been filed today in connection with the slaying of the woman later identified as businesswoman Lea Angeles-Ng.
Tommy Ng, the victim¡¯s husband, reported her missing on 23 January 2012, after she failed to return home and could no longer be contacted ever since she left their house in Quezon City on January 20. The Anti¡ªKidnapping Group (¡°AKG") of the Philippine National Police (PNP) investigated the case and, the following day (January 24), the victim¡¯s vehicle was found abandoned in a supermarket parking lot in Carmona, Cavite. Footage recorded from the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera monitoring the parking lot revealed two (2) male persons parking and leaving the vehicle at 2:20 PM of January 20.
One of the two men were identified by Mrs. Angeles-Ng¡¯s brother and two other witnesses as REGINEL REGIDOR SANTIAGO y CAPULONG, a.k.a. "Tagoy", a former policeman and known to the relatives and employees of Mrs. Angeles-Ng as a ¡°minion" of former National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Spokesperson and then Deputy Chief of the Communication and Electronics (Comel) Service of PNP Region 7, PSUPT. ROMMEL MIRANDA y SANTOS.
Tommy Ng further reported that, from February 20 to 22, he received calls and text messages from an unidentified caller/texter demanding ransom in the amount of Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00) in exchange for his wife¡¯s liberty.
Santiago was thereafter arrested by AKG operatives on February 23. Inquest proceedings were initiated against him, but he expressly waived, with the assistance of his own counsel, the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code (Delay in the Delivery of Detained Persons to the Proper Judicial Authorities) and requested the conduct of a regular preliminary investigation.
Santiago executed extrajudicial confessions, dated 23 and 29 February 2012, both with the assistance of his own counsel and affirmed before the investigating prosecutors during the course of the preliminary investigation, confessing and detailing his participation in the killing of Mrs. Angeles¡¤Ng, pointing to PSUPT. Miranda as the mastermind, and implicating two other police officers, namely, PO1 JIFFORD SIGNAP y GONZALES and PO1 OTELIO SANT OS, JR. Y BAGNES, as having acted in complicity in committing the crime.
Signap and Santos, while both denying prior knowledge about plans to kill Mrs. Angeles-Ng, whom they claim not to have known and, therefore, against whom they had no motive or ill-will, corroborated Santiago¡¯s account insofar as it implicated PSUPT. Miranda. As stated by the investigating prosecutors in their Resolution, their statements "are in unison in pointing respondent Miranda as the person who alighted from the vehicle of Lea in Taguig City and ordered the disposal of Lea¡¯s body. These interlocking statements are material and identical with each other... [and] are confirmatory evidence and gave high probability of respondent Miranda¡¯s involvement in the killing."
In resolving the case, the prosecutors based their conclusions on evidence that includes the extrajudicial confessions of Santiago, the statements of Signap and Santos, the affidavit of Tommy Ng (stating, among others, that three days prior to his wife¡¯s disappearance she told him that she had an argument with respondent Miranda and that ¡°Pag may nangyari masama sa akin ay si Rommel ang gagawa noon sa akin."), the affidavits of Cecilia Sanchez, the personal assistant and relative of the victim (stating, among others, that sometime in 2011, she was instructed by the victim to collect from Miranda the amount of Thirteen Million Pesos [P13,000,000.00], which the latter refused and insisted that he had no obligation to Mrs. Angeles-Ng), the affidavit of Miranda himself (among others, admitting that he had a scheduled meeting the victim, and admitting his business transactions with her), various CCTV recordings, and the results of the clarificatory hearings and ocular inspection they conducted.
After considering the foregoing, they found sufficient evidence to charge Miranda, Santiago, Signap and Santos with the crime of MURDER, qualified by taking advantage of superior strength. They also found probable cause to include ELMER PAISTE y DONATO, the caretaker/ guard of the compound where the victim¡¯s body was found, in the charges, finding that "it is very impossible that [he] could not notice the presence of Lea¡¯s lifeless body being alighted from the vehicle and the way it was dumped in the septic tank," which the ocular inspection revealed to be merely "more or less 10 meters away" from the guard house.
The prosecutors further found that ¡°[w]hile respondent Miranda denied the allegations levelled against him, his defense is weak and evidentiary in nature" and, thus "best appreciated only during the full blown trial."
The investigating prosecutors dismissed the original charge for the special complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide, as "there was no evidence presented to prove that there was intent on the part of the respondents to deprive Lea of her liberty. Neither are there evidence showing that she was indeed deprived of her liberty by the respondents before she died." They held that the solitary evidence of demand for ransom is not sufficient to support the charge for kidnapping, as it is not an essential element of the crime. Besides, evidence supports the conclusion that she was already dead at the time ransom was demanded.
Informations for Murder have been filed against the five (5) accused, and warrants for their arrest are expected to be issued forthwith.