MANILA — An officer of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday entered a “not guilty” plea to the crime of homicide for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman off the Balintang Channel in May 2013.
PCG Commanding Officer Arnold Enriquez dela Cruz pleaded not guilty to the killing of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng before the Basco, Batanes Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 13.
According to Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, the RTC has set the preliminary conference of De la Cruz’s case on September 1 and 2 while his pre-trial has been scheduled to October 6 and 7.
However, the RTC deferred the arraignment of Cruz’s co-accused Seamen 1st Class (SN1) Edrando Aguila, Mhelvin Bendo II, Andy Golfo, Sunny Masangcay and Henry Solomon; SN2 Nicky Aurello; and Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz due to their pending petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and a petition for the transfer of venue of the trial of the case before the Supreme Court (SC).
Lawyer Rodrigo Moreno, legal counsel of the accused, said that under the rules, there is an automatic suspension of the proceedings for 60 days if there is a pending motion.
The PCG personnel were on board a vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) patrolling off the coast of Balintang Channel when they intercepted the Taiwanese fishing vessel which was allegedly poaching on May 9, 2013.
After a brief sea chase, they fired at the fishing vessel that killed the Taiwanese fisherman in the process.