PAO to extend legal aid to Mandaluyong ‘misencounter’ survivor

MANILA -- The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) will provide legal assistance to one of two persons who survived the shooting incident in Mandaluyong City that left two people dead last December 28.

"It was the survivor in the shooting who was first to seek our assistance. Mr. Eliseo Aluad was referred to us by members of the media," PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said Wednesday.

Acosta said she would meet Aluad on Thursday to discuss the case against the policemen and watchmen who were involved in the incident.

The other survivor was identified as Danilo Santiago Jr.

In usual cases, the PAO would defend policemen in criminal cases. The office, however, also has a mandate to provide free legal services to indigent citizens.

Acosta clarified that it was not a matter of choice by her office to defend the victim instead of the policemen in the latest controversy against the Philippine National Police.

She explained that in cases of opposing parties both seeking assistance from her office, it would be whoever was first to make the request who would be given PAO assistance.

"We cannot represent both parties in the same case because that would be conflict of interest on our part," she clarified.

The PAO chief said this was also the case in the earlier criminal charges against Caloocan policemen for the killings of teenagers Kian Lloyd Delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, and Reynaldo "Kulot" de Guzman during anti-narcotics operations last August.

Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the shooting incident in Mandaluyong City.

Aguirre ordered NBI Director Dante Gierran to conduct (an) investigation and case build-up over the deaths of two individuals and injuries of two individuals during a police operation along Shaw Blvd. corner Wack Wack road involving members of the Mandaluyong City Police".

Aguirre also ordered the NBI to gather evidence and file appropriate charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against those responsible for the incident.

Meanwhile, the 10 policemen involved in the incident, namely Senior Insp. Cristina Vasquez, Police Officer 2 Nel Songalia and PO1s Kim Tinbusay, Bryan Nicolas, Julius Livuen, Ariel Uribe, Jave Arellano, Tito Danao, Mark Castillo, and Albert Buwag and the three watchmen Wilmer Duron, Ernesto Fajardo, and Gilbert Gulpo, have already been charged with homicide before the Mandaluyong City prosecutor's office.

They were charged over the killing of Jonalyn Ambaon and Jomar Hayawon during the shooting incident.

Apart from the charges already filed against the respondents, Acosta said Aluad plans to file separate charges against them.

Ambaon was being rushed to the hospital after she was shot and wounded during an earlier incident. The policemen shot the van carrying the victim, thinking the passengers were the suspects in the incident, as claimed by the watchmen.

The police officers have also been disarmed and placed in restrictive custody following the incident, while the barangay watchmen, who also fired at the victims, have likewise been ordered suspended by the local government.

Source: Philippine News Agency