A POLICE officer has been convicted of homicide and sentenced to at least six years imprisonment by the Sandiganbayan for the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy in 2006.
The Sandiganbayan Second Division found Police Staff Sgt. Michael Albarico Geral guilty beyond reasonable doubt of causing the death of Albert Angao around midnight of April 15, 2006 after mistaking the victim as a member of a group of motorcycle thieves.
Aside from the jail term, the anti-graft court also ordered Geral to pay the victim’s family P175,000 as actual damages, P50,000 as civil indemnity, and P50,000 as moral damages or a total of P275,000 subject to legal interest until paid in full.
The court swept aside Geral’s claim that he withheld his shot and that it was his companion in the chase vehicle who fired and killed the teen.
Likewise given little weight was the allegation that the deceased and his companions fired first at Geral and his fellow officers manning a checkpoint on Padada Highway, Padada, Davao del Sur.
“Even if the court, exercising leniency, were to make a studied consideration of the possible justifying circumstance of lawful performance of official duty, the same would still fail to exonerate Police Officer Geral,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Trial records showed the victim and three friends went for a ride on two motorbikes on the night of April 15, 2006. Angao drove one of the motorcycles with Rosekhan Singcala, 17, as passenger while the other was driven by Mcdonald Alvarado, 15, with Dennis Cortes, 21, as passenger.
Angao was on a new motorcycle, a graduation gift from his father.
The four agreed to ride all the way to Gen. Santos City but were flagged down by two men, one wearing a police uniform, the other in civilian clothes.
Knowing that both drivers had no driving licenses, the group panicked and sped away scared after hearing two warning shots.
Thinking they were safe, the four slowed down to confer. They decided to call off the plan to go to Gen. Santos City for fear of encountering more checkpoints.
Alvarado and Cortes testified that, unknown to them, Geral and his companion gave chase aboard a pickup truck and caught up with them while they were talking. The two said the persons on board the vehicle fired at them, resulting in another chase.
Alvarado said he drove in the direction of the city until reaching Overland Transport Terminal but had to stop at the pleading of Cortes who was hit in the leg. The police caught them there and placed them under arrest.
During the chase, they lost track of Angao who took a different road with Singcala.
The father of Angao testified that his son’s body was later found near Kilometer 80 marker with his new motorcycle.
Singcala, who sustained gunshot wounds, was taken to the Provincial Hospital and later transferred by his parents to the Davao Medical Center out of fear for his safety.
Former Padada mayor Antonio Razonable was also named co-defendant but he died during the pendency of the case, extinguishing any criminal liability on his part.
While Geral claimed the four shot at them as evidenced by a supposed .38 handgun recovered near Angao’s body, the court said the assertion deserved no weight.