Pursuant to the Justice Secretary's directive to investigate the series of unresolved killings purportedly perpetrated by the Tagum Death Squad (TDS) of nearly three hundred (300) individuals that occurred from 2007 to 2013 in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) secured the extra-judicial confessions/sworn statements of former TDS hit men, ROMNICK R. MINTA (MINTA) and JOMARIE ABAYON (ABAYON). In view of the sufficiency of the statements and other documents, the NBI recommended the filing of several counts of murder against the following:
A. Former Mayor REY "CHIONG" UY, as principal (by inducement) or a co-conspirator for ordering the killing/s of the victims;
B. Members in various capacities of the TDS composed of a police officer, ex-convicts, gangsters, and former members of the New People's Army, to wit:
1. PO1 ALEX MANIEGO;
2 WRENSTER AZARCON, a.k.a. "REN REN";
3 EDUARDO CABUTAD, a.k.a. "EDDIE";
4. JUNARD CUARESMA, a.k.a.."TATA";
5. NOEL DE OCAMPO, a.k.a."NOYNOY";
6. ELBETH TIRADO, a.k.a."TRONG TRONG";
7. JUNJIE OLITA;
8. JUAN OLITA a.k.a. "WANI";
9. ALLAN ROSELLO y DE GUZMAN;
10. RONILO DACLISON;
12.ROMNICK MINTA y RENEGADO; and
13.JOMARIE ABAYON y PLAZA.
C. Head and Supervisors of the Civil Security Unit (CSU):
1. P/Supt. ABRAHAM KATRE (Ret.)(KATRE);
2. CONRADO PALEN, a.k.a."RADING".(PALEN);
3. VICTOR CUARESMA a.k.a. "KULOT" (CUARESMA); and
4. SPO1 ROLLY SABITSANA (SABITSANA)
D. Tagum City police officers who conspired and cooperated with the death squad:
1. PO2 DIVINA AGUCOY;
2. SPO3 JOSE BINGEL;and
3. PO2 LEONARDO ABRENICA.
E. Other individuals who either sought the killings participated in the planning or acted as assets or look-outs:
1. Sps. ROSALIE and REMBERT DELUMBAR
2. HERNAN DE LOS REYES
3. NICASIO A. LEMENTE a.k.a. "NICK"
4. RICHARD ARNADO y ARMESIN a.k.a. "RICKY"
5. a.k.a. JUN CONCEPTION a.k.a. "RODEL" and a.k.a. "JAYSON"
6. a.k.a "GARY" long hair
7. a.k.a. "DAN DAN"
8. a.k.a. "TONTON"
With the assistance of their counsels, MINTA and ABAYON revealed the composition of the TDS and their respective participation in several killings perpetrated by the group. As alleged, most of the orders to kill came from UY, mostly thru his intermediary/ies, SABITSANA, CUARESMA and/or PALEN. In other instances, however, UY personally ordered the group (including MINTA and ABAYON) to eliminate specific victims, particularly in the cases of victims Sanny Acuran, Minta (who survived the attack due to timely medical intervention), Mario Minta, Jesus Cabayacruz, Jessie Perocho, and Ronnie Delima.
MINTA and ABAYON claimed that UY established the TDS to rid of Tagum City of criminals or would-be criminals, whom UY referred to as "weeds" to convey a strong message to criminals or would be criminals that Tagum City was not a place for them; that later on, however, the squad was used for contract killings to eliminate business competitors, enemies, employees, tribal leaders, and police officers who were threats to them or going against their interest, etc. like victims Sanny Acuram, Sps. Generosa and Adriano Razonable, Rodolfo Losgapa, Jr., Perfecto A. Cadullo, and Franklin Romasanta; and that the TDS members who refused to carry out orders, sought to quit, or otherwise fell out of grace with its leaders became themselves targets of the death squad, such as in the cases of CYRIAN BAUTISTA and MINTA. These, they add, were all carried out with the instruction and/or approval of UY.
MINTA and ABAYON also stated that the extrajudicial killings were carried out mostly in broad daylight in public places by motorcycleriding in-tandem gunmen, using mostly calibre .45 pistols; that UY provided payment and equipment for the operations, using the CSU as cover to lawfully issue guns and motorcycles used in the killings; that the house of SABITSANA became one of the safe houses and place where PALEN or CUARESMA would pay the TDS members; that the TDS as a group got paid P5,000.00 for every killing, except in contract killings for which they received higher amount which the participants would divide among themselves; and that the money would come from UY himself, channelled through either CUARESMA or PALEN, then to SABITSANA.
In his Sinumpaang Salaysay, MINTA narrated that he received a briefing as member of the death squad from KATRE and UY; that in one instance, CUARESMA instructed MINTA to get the money from the house of UY and the latter personally gave him Php10,000.00 for the killings of ANGELO MARA and JOVANNI MEJOS; and that he became a target for liquidation by his own group after he refused the order to become the triggerman in killing SPO1 ACHILES C. ANOVER.
ABAYON corroborated the statement of MINTA and stated that the killings were all ordered by UY; and that they have killed five (5) persons in 2009, six (6) in 2010, ten (10) in 2011, and thirteen (13) in 2012. ABAYON also admitted killing MARIO MINTA and mortally wounding MINTA in 2012. Furthermore, in his Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay he made mention of thirty (30) more killings by the death squad.
ABAYON and MINTA further revealed that a number of Tagum City police officers conspired and cooperated with the death squad. Before and after any operation of the squad, SABITSANA and MANIEGO would inform AGUCOY, BINGEL, and ABRENICA and the three (3) police officers would clear the area of any possible problem that could arise in the killing. They added that in several instances, members of Tagum City PNP and/or CSU members brought arrested criminals to the house of UY; that TDS members were told to proceed there to kill the criminals upon orders of UY; and that they brought the criminals or their dead bodies in Maco, Compostela Valley or in Dujali, Davao del Norte.
From the sworn statements of MINTA and ABAYON, the NBI observed that the respective roles or participations of their co-members/companions, who, together with them, actually executed the killings, are evident, as they are categorically stated. Thus, in a 30-page letter-transmittal cum letter-complaint dated 26 February 2015 to Prosecutor General Claro D. Arellano, the NBI recommended for prosecution the afore-named individuals on charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder: There are nineteen (19) private complainants named in said transmittal letter.
The Tagum Death Squad (TDS) phenomenon, like the Davao Death Squad (DDS), has been the subject of a Human Rights Watch Report.