A New People’s Army commander and 17 other communist guerrillas have been charged with murder before the Regional Trial Court last week for the abduction and killing of an ex-rebel-turned-CAFGU-volunteer in 2007.
The criminal case, filed by the Philippine National Police, named as the accused Michael “Ka Melwin” Guerrero, commander of the NPA Nerissa San Juan Command’s Sentro de Grabidad (SDG), Warren “Rico” Pongan, Jeffrey Pongan, Richard Pongan, Jerome/Victor, Ka Kagawad, Ka Ben, Ka Joel, Ka Arthur, Ka Eric and eight other John Does.
Information filed before the Court stated that on or about June 24, 2007 at sitio Ikanbayong in Maysuram, Caramoran, the accused abducted the victim, Joel Pongan, and then treacherously hacked him to death. It was Pongan’s skeletal remains, still wearing his clothes and necklace, which were exhumed by soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion on Feb. 25 this year in a shallow grave after a former rebel revealed its location.
A rebel returnee, Victor Espiritu, alleged that before Pongan’s killing, he was with Ka Melwin’s group then operating in the Pandan-Caramoran area under the leadership of NPA front secretary Daniel “Ka Tabs” frias. From their temporary camp at sitio Tagdayan also in Maysuram, he and 17 others, including the accused, went to the house of Joel, arriving in the afternoon.
The former guerrilla was poked with a gun and ordered by Ka Melwin to lie down so his hands could be tied. They brought him to a brook where the NPA commander asked him about the Barangay Intelligence Network (BIN) of the Philippine Army. Ka Melwin ordered some of the men to dig a pit on the ground while Joel was blindfolded. Ka Ben then directed Jerome/Victor, Ka Jeffrey Pongan and Ka Eric to kill Joel.
With Espiritu acting as security, he saw Ka Jeffrey stab Pongan first, hitting him on the breast and then Jerome/Victor and Ka Eric followed. When the CAFGU volunteer was dead, he was thrown into the pit which was then covered with soil.
The victim’s father, Silverio, said he last saw his son at 2 P.M. of June 24, 2007 when his nephew Richard Pongan arrived together with one Ka Sonny, Ka Tabs and four other armed men. He said he had a heavy heart when he saw his son being led away with hands tied behind his back. Richard told his uncle that his son had done wrong to the barrio.
As the accused could no longer be located in the area and thus unable to receive the subpoena and file their counter-affidavits, the Provincial Prosecution Office resolved the complaint on the evidence presented by the police.
With the allegations uncontroverted, the prosecutors found probable cause against the resp0ondents for the crime of murder with aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation, treachery, taking advantage of superior strength with aid of armed men, with the victim given no opportunity to defend himself.