PO2 Angel to be charged for murder of Enzo Pastor; recantation rejected by the investigating prosecutor

18 September 2014

In a Resolution dated 12 September 2014 which was released today, Assistant State Prosecutor Susan T. Villanueva resolved the complaints filed by the Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDU) and private complainant Tomas Pastor ("TOMAS"), for the crimes of murder and frustrated murder in connection with the killing of Mr. Ferdinand Pastor y Salas, a.k.a. "ENZO" and the wounding of Paolo Salazar ("SALAZAR"), respectively, against Respondent PO2 Edgar Angel y Ybanes ("PO2 ANGEL").

It appears that on 26-27 August 2014, Respondent PO2 ANGEL, assisted by Atty. Cecilio Lumantao of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) - Quezon City Chapter, gave his voluntary extra-judicial statements before PO2 Alvin Quisumbing of the PNP-CIDU.  Respondent PO2 ANGEL disclosed that Domingo de Guzman, a.k.a. "SANDY”, and Dahlia Guerrero Pastor ("DAHLIA"), ENZO's wife, masterminded the plan to kill the victim by contracting him to be the gunman for a fee of one hundred thousand pesos (Phpl00,000.00).He also elaborated on other circumstances that led to the death of ENZO.

During the inquest proceedings, PO2 ANGEL affirmed the contents of his two (2) separate statements, and thereafter, with the assistance of his counsel, executed a waiver of the benefit of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. On 08 September 2014, Respondent PO2 ANGEL submitted his counter-affidavit with a complete recantation of  his earlier  statements before the police authorities. He claimed that his illegal arrest was actually effected at Metrowalk, Pasig City; that he was later brought to Camp Karingal where he received bodily blows; that after which, he was brought to a stage-managed "buy-bust" operation in Libis, Quezon City; that he was tortured and blackmailed into admitting his complicity in the death of ENZO and the wounding of SALAZAR; that the adverted extra-judicial statements were signed by him under duress; and that his alleged statements were already prepared and the details made-up by the police authorities.

Resolving the subject complaints, the Assistant State Prosecutor observed that the first two statements were executed at the office of the IBP, Quezon City, and in the presence of lawyer, which, "on its face is presumed valid", and thus, is "admissible in evidence against [Respondent PO2 ANGEL]"; and that Respondent PO2 ANGEL's previous declarations were further bolstered by the fact that he allowed himself to be interviewed on national television where he categorically and unequivocally affirmed his narrations and even gave  justifications for what he did.

In ruling against the credibility of Respondent PO2 ANGEL's third statement during the stage of preliminary investigation, the Assistant State Prosecutor maintained that "the presumption of  voluntariness weighs heavily on him, because to begin with, he is not an ordinary individual in contemplation of the law. He is an active member of the [PNP] who has been exposed to and is presumably aware of the effects and consequences of his extra-judicial confessions". Taking guidance from Philippine jurisprudence, "recantations do not necessarily cancel an earlier declaration"; and that like any other testimony, the test of credibility must be utilized to determine which of the contradictory testimonies represents the truth. The Resolution went on further stating that "these qualifications can only be arrived at during a full-blown trial on the merits and not during preliminary investigation".

After a careful evaluation of all facts presented before her, the Assistant Prosecutor resolved that all the elements of the crime of murder were found to be present.

Anent the presence of the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation, the Assistant State Prosecutor stated that "it was clearly proven that during the last week of February 2014, when [Respondent PO2 ANGEL"] saw the picture of ["DAHLIA"] with bruises on her face and arms, he decided to kill the  victim." Respondent PO2 ANGEL's acceptance of the initial payment of Php50,000.00 from SANDY and his receipt of the motorcycle and gun to be used to commit the crime, coupled with the regular and constant communication manifestly  indicated that Respondent PO2 ANGEL clung to his determination to kill ENZO. The decision of Respondent PO2 ANGEL to kill ENZO was a result of meditation, calculation, and reflection given that he had ample time, from his first meeting with SANDY on the second week of November 2013 up to June 2014, to think about his decision.

Moreover, the Assistant State Prosecutor  found that the qualifying circumstance of treachery attended the commission of the crime because of the presence of the following: (1) the means of  executing the crime, that is, by shooting, did not give ENZO an opportunity to defend himself nor retaliate; and (2) that the means of killing ENZO was deliberately and consciously adopted by Respondent PO2 ANGEL.

As to the complaint for frustrated murder, the Assistant State Prosecutor resolved that "the same cannot be considered absent such proof, i.e., medical records showing the extent of injuries allegedly suffered" by Enzo's helper, Paolo.

In view of the foregoing, the following actions were recommended:

1. The Information for violation of Article 248 (Murder) of the RPC be filed against Respondent PO2 ANGEL; and

2. The complaint for violation of Article 250 (Frustrated Murder) be dismissed, without prejudice, for insufficiency of evidence. 

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