ICPO cops in 2019 arrest of Nava bodyguards suspended

PHOTO CAPTION: The case filed by former Iloilo City councilor Plaridel Nava (in right photo) against 16 cops headed by its former director, P/Lt. Col. Martin Defensor, for the illegal and warrantless arrest of his two personal bodyguards (in left photo) back in 2019 finally resulted in the one-month and one-day suspension of the accused. (N. Glenn Aragon/Photos courtesy of Panay News)

ILOILO CITY–The 16 policemen who effected the arrest of the two bodyguards of former Iloilo City councilor Plaridel Nava almost three years ago have been found guilty of simple misconduct and sentenced to a one-month and a day suspension without pay.

Nava, who was still a lawyer at that time, had immediately filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, claiming that his personal bodyguards—brothers Roy and Rex Delos Reyes—were arrested inside his office at the Iloilo City Hall by members of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) without an issued warrant.

Based on the said order, the accused cops were unable to prove that the warrantless arrest had a legal basis.

Sentenced with the suspension were former ICPO director P/Lt. Col. Martin Defensor Jr., P/Lt. Col. Godfrey Buslotan, P/Lt. Col. Jonathan Pablito, P/Lt. Col. Marlon Valencia, P/SMSgt. Edward Barrida, P/SMSgt. Jessie Jim Rubio, P/MSgt. Vernie Escorial, P/SSgt. Richard Ivan Lopez, P/SSgt. Oliver Lonasco, P/SSgt. Ricardo Morante, P/SSgt. Joel Novera, P/SSgt. Cyril Maestre, P/SSgt. John Marcel San Pedro, P/SSgt. Melbert Nino, P/SSgt. Enrico Gonzales, and PSSgt. Peter Laurence Organia.

For those who can no longer serve the penalty of suspension owing to them being already separated from the service, the penalty will be converted into a fine, in the amount equivalent to their salary for one month and one day to be deducted from their retirement benefits, accrued leave credits, or any receivable from their office.

It may be recalled that the arrest of the two brothers was linked to the riding-in-tandem shooting to death of Mercedes Nava, the former city councilor’s cousin with which he had a misunderstanding, and Erwin Fontillas last January 4, 2019.

To note, two of the 16 cops in the case—Escorial and Morante—were themselves involved in the murders of Allain Muller and Delfin Britanico early this year.

In his complaint affidavit in the original case for grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service that he filed immediately after the arrest of the Delos Reyes brothers, Nava argued that the arrest against the two was “illegal and thus void ab initio [from the beginning].”

He said then that “basing from the available facts, circumstances and evidence of the respondents, the so-called hot pursuit is no longer applicable in the case at hand.”

Nava further pointed out that Mercedes’ murder happened three days before the brothers’ arrest, and, as such, the first element is “clearly wanting”. (N. Glenn Aragon/iNEWS)

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