PHILIPPINE Army Chief Romeo Brawner Jr. on Thursday said a board of inquiry has been formed to investigate the allegations against Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III and other members of the military tagged in the murder of Yvonette Plaza..
Brawner, in an interview over DZBB on Thursday, said the court martial proceedings might take place simultaneously with the civilian court proceedings for the members of the Army.
“We are doing our own investigation and we formed a board of inquiry to look into the truthfulness of the allegations against our officers and enlisted personnel,” he added, although he said they will still wait for the result of the parallel investigation conducted by the military before the court martial proceedings can take place.
“Results from the probe may be ready as soon as this week, ” he said as he pointed out that the military has its own military justice system which will go into the administrative aspects of the case.
To facilitate the court martial proceedings, Brawner said the military will ask the civilian court for custody of Durante, former commander of the Presidential Security Group during the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte, and the other soldiers tagged in the crime .
“We are not going to pamper our personnel but instead, we will be following the procedures of the military justice system,” he said.
“Bibigyan po sila ng pagkakataon na sila naman po ay magfile ng counter affidavit nila from their personal lawyers or pwede rin pong tumulong yung ating mga lawyers but of course susundin po natin yung proseso ng ating batas,” he added.
Durante, also the former commander of the 1001st Infantry Brigade, along with his former deputy, Col. Michael Licyayo, have been restricted to Army headquarters to ensure impartial investigations, Brawner said.
“We do not tolerate these wrongdoings. Whatever the rank, pare-pareho ang treatment natin,” he said.
“We tell our soldiers not to follow illegal orders like killing a person in this case. But then again, this has to be established in court that aspect they were ordered by General Durante,” he added.
Based on the initial report, as shown on a close circuit television footage, two men on motorcycle shot Plaza in front of her rented house in Green Meadows subdivision in Mintal, Tugbok District.
Durante’s name first caught the attention of investigators after he denied his involvement following the report that Plaza posted on social media pictures showing some bruises on the face and blaming the military official for it. The same post was eventually taken down.
But investigators dragged Durante into the case after a witness identified the alleged soldiers involved in the killing, Sgt, Delfin L. Sialsa and Cpl. Adrian N. Cachero. A civilian, Noel H. Japitan, was also named accessory to the murder after he was instructed to dismantle the motorcycle used in the crime and change its color.
Also tagged in the crime are Licyayo, SSg. Gilbert P. Plaza, PFC Rolly Cabal, PFC Romart Longakit, another unknown civilian and a man identified only as Master Sergeant.
The investigation result said some of those who executed extrajudicial confessions admitted the involvement of Durante as mastermind and identified the others.
Captain Mark Anthony Tito, 10th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office chief, said Longakit was abducted, Cabal was absent without official leave, while Plaza, Sialsa and Cachero were under the custody of the division.
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