October 5, 2023 | 12:00am
People pay respects to 17-year old Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar in his wake in Navotas City on August 11, 2023.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman
MANILA, Philippines — A Navotas court has ordered the arrest of the six police officers involved in the death of 17-year-old Jerhode Baltazar in a police operation last Aug. 2.
In a warrant dated Oct. 3, Regional Trial Court Branch 286 Judge Pedro Dabu Jr. ordered the arrest of Staff Sergeants Gerry Maliban, Antonio Bugayong Jr. and Nikko Pines Esquilon; Executive Master Sergeant Roberto Balais Jr.; Corporal Edward Blanco and Patrolman Benedict Mangada for the non-bailable offense of murder “to place them under the custody of law in order not to frustrate the ends of justice.”
According to the court, it determined probable cause after evaluating the Navotas City prosecutor’s resolution, which indicted the six police officers, and supporting evidence such as the joint sworn statement of Captains Mark Joseph Carpio and Luisito dela Cruz, the supervisors of the six accused.
The Department of Justice filed the murder charge before the court on Oct. 2 against the six lawmen for killing Baltazar while he and his friend were cleaning their fishing boat in a river near their home in Navotas.
The six accused were among the police officers who took part in an Aug. 2 operation pursuing murder suspect Reynaldo Bolivar, whom they had mistaken to be Baltazar.
According to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, the filing of the murder case was a departure from the homicide complaint lodged by the family of Baltazar before the city prosecutor’s office.
Last month, the National Capital Region Police Office approved the dismissal from service of the six police officers as well as Carpio and Dela Cruz.
A total of 22 Navotas police officers have been relieved over the killing of Baltazar.
Administrative charges are also being eyed against sacked Navotas police chief, Col. Allan Umipig, for allegedly covering up an investigation into the incident.
Umipig reportedly ordered the exclusion of 11 police officers from the report on the shooting incident.
According to earlier reports, autopsy results showed a bullet hit Baltazar behind the ear, with an exit wound in the nose. Another bullet hit him in the right hand.
His death certificate stated that Baltazar’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and asphyxia from drowning.
The six police officers are under restrictive police custody. The arrest warrant means that they will be sent to a local jail.