Justice Secretary Leila De Lima commended a prosecutor for securing the conviction of an Army officer responsible for the death of a graduating engineering student in Albay.
In a 22-page Decision, the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court Branch 2 found Sgt. Alex Estacio, a member of the Philippine Army (PA), stationed at 21D, Camp Mateo Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder, for killing Joel Asejo on Oct. 1, 2002 at Brgy. San Isidro, Sto. Domingo, Albay.
Presiding Judge Ignacio Almodovar, Jr. sentenced him to an imprisonment of reclusion perpetua and to pay the heirs of the victim a total of P227,268 in civil indemnity and damages.
The case stemmed from the Amended Information filed by Albay Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Cesar Bonos accusing Estacio and five other members of the PA 21D for Murder, for the death of Asejo, 20, then a graduating engineering student of Bicol University.
During trial, a witness testified that they went to the Mayon Spring Resort on that date to celebrate in advance the birthday of one of their classmates.
He said they had a drinking session after taking their meals. While they were drinking, “a group of men bearing firearms” alighted from a parked ambulance nearby, “one of whom fired his gun and another pointed the gun” at their group and uttered the words , “wag kayong gagalaw dyan [Don’t move].”
He said he saw two of the men held and dragged Asejo by both his hands, after which he “heard a second gunshot from the place where Joel was brought. Thereafter, the men boarded the same ambulance and left the resort.”
He heard one of his companions said, “Joel was hit.” Asejo was brought to the Aquinas University Hospital but was later transferred to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) where he was declared dead.
Another witness positively identified Estacio as “the one responsible in shooting Asejo.”
During investigation, however, the witnesses failed to identify the other accused as participants in the killing of the victim.
De Lima commended Bonos for his persistence in pursuing the case. She said, “We cannot turn back the hands of time, nor can we bring back this young man’s life. But I hope his parents are satisfied with the outcome of the case, knowing that justice has been served.”