MANILA, Philippines — At a press conference held Wednesday, the National Bureau of Investigation recommends the filing of homicide charges for 8 Philippine Coast Guards involved in the case of 65-year-old Taiwan national Hung Shih-cheng shot to death in the Balintang Channel on May 9, this year.
NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas stated on the 84-page result that the PCG crewmen on board MCS 3001 had clearly failed to establish that there was an eminent threat on their lives. Rojas stressed that the use of firearms should only be taken into action if there is an eminent grave threat being observed against them.
Rojas also said that the attempt to ram the PCG patrol vessel was vague as shown in the video taken by the PCG personnel. According to him, it is possible that the fishing boat, carrying unarmed Hung Shih-Cheng, merely intended to get away from the vessel and not to ram it, which opposes the original statement by the 8 PCG crewmen.
Facing the homicide charges are commanding officer of the Philippine vessel MCS-3001, Arnold de la Cruz, together with his crewmen SN1 Edrando Quiapo Aguila, SN1 Mhelvin Bendo, SN2 Nicky Reynold Aurello, SN1 Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo, SN1 Sunny Galang Masangcay, SN1 Henry Baco Solomon, and PO2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz.
The investigative result highlights that at the point of the indiscriminate firing shown in the video, the PCG crew was no longer acting in lawful observation of the ROE (rules of engagement) and more likely to have incorporated “intended” gunshots to Hung.
In a statement, Rojas also stressed that the video submitted by the PCG was spliced from the original, cutting the vital parts that document more evidences for the said Balintang Channel encounter.
This will also charge de la Cruz, his executive officer, Lt. (j.g.) Martin Bernabe and two other coast guards, SN1 Mhelvin Bendo and Marvin Ramirez with obstruction of justice for tampering the evidence laid during the investigation.
However, with all the results presented by the NBI regarding this case, the PCG still remains quiet and leaves with “no comment” for the said allegations.
Kathleen Ave L. Crucillo
Leyte Normal University