BAGUIO CITY — A police lawsuit against friends and family members of slain peace talks consultant Randy Felix Malayao was meant only to fish for information about communist rebels and not solve his murder, according to a member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) on Friday.
NUPL lawyer Edu Balgos was charged on Feb. 6 with grave threats, grave coercion and obstruction of justice because of his role in retrieving Malayao’s laptop, phones and his other belongings from the Nueva Vizcaya police.
Also charged were Balgos’ wife, Rina, and Malayao’s sister, Perla Urpano.
Police accused them of taking material evidence.
A consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace talks with the Duterte administration, Malayao was shot dead at dawn on Jan. 30 as he slept inside an Isabela-bound bus that made a pit stop at the Nueva Vizcaya town of Aritao.
Police released Malayao’s belongings to Urpano at midnight of Jan. 30.
Senior Supt. Jeremias Aglugub, Nueva Vizcaya police chief, and Chief Insp. Geovanni Cejes, Aritao police chief, were sacked for mishandling the investigation.
Cejes filed the complaints against the Balgos couple and Urpano a day before Malayao was buried on Feb. 7 at the San Pablo Cemetery.
“Let us not forget that Randy Malayao is the victim here, his family is still grieving and the PNP is putting unnecessary pressure on them,” said Balgos, who helped Malayao’s family when they reclaimed Malayao’s belongings.
“The police should focus on the evidence they have,” he said.
“But they are hell-bent on laying their hands on Randy’s cellphones and laptop,” Balgos said.
“This only shows that police are not really trying to solve the killing but actually want to fish for information,” he added.
Balgos did not explain what kind of data Malayao had been keeping in his devices.
He, however, said police willingly released Malayao’s belongings.
“His family stayed to assert their right to his personal belongings until the police gave in at around midnight,” Balgos said.
Sections 1 and 2 of the Bill of Rights state that a slain victim’s nearest kin was entitled to his or her belongings, the NUPL lawyer said.
Edre Olalia, NUPL president, said policemen investigating the murder of Malayao “are acting again like keystone cops of the early 1900s.”
“How could an investigation be credible and competent when preconceived and biased inflexible conclusions come before the facts and premises?” Olalia said in a statement.
He was referring to a new account that said police are looking into a fallout between Malayao and the New People’s Army as a motive for Malayao’s killing. —Kimberlie Quitasol
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