MANILA— The Manila City Regional Trial Court has convicted nine policemen for the murder of Esmael Omar, who was mistaken for a terrorist but turned out to be an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Quiapo, Manila in 2000.
The conviction gave credit to government prosecutors, who are said to have scored a victory against abusive cops.
In a 94-page ruling dated November 9 and obtained from the Department of Justice on Thursday, Manila RTC Branch 41 imposed six to 12 years imprisonment one the nine accused cops from the intelligence unit of Western Police District (now Manila Police District), namely: SPO4 Wilson Tirso Tibor, SPO4 Remigio Estacio, SPO3 Edgardo Abaga, SPO2 Julian Siriban, SPO2 Eduardo Ramos, PO3 Randy Dimayuga, PO3 Ronald Hernandez, PO2 Philip Malindog, and PO1 Ignacio Garlan.
Aside from imprisonment, the Manila RTC also ordered the policemen to pay Omar’s heirs P75,000 for death indemnity, P75,000 for moral damages, and P30,000 for exemplary damages.
In its ruling, the court said the policemen demonstrated a “determined effort” to kill Omar, and not just to defend themselves.
“Even if this Court would consider that he (Omar) was in possession of a revolver as posed by the defense, the multiple gunshots he sustained which led to his death cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be deemed as an act of self-preservation on the part of the accused police officers,” it said.
Meanwhile, on a murder case filed for the death of Samin Akmad, another OFW that suffered the same fate as Omar, the Manila RTC absolved the policemen since the prosecution witness only pointed to Tibor as the shooter.
“Further guided by the onus probandi (burden of proof) in criminal cases which requires moral certainty, this Court finds and so holds that acquitting the six accused of the first charge (Akmad’s death) would be in keeping with the ends of justice,” the court said.
Records showed that Omar and his companion Samin Akmad were fatally shot on the night of June 8, 2000 in Quiapo, Manila by policemen after being suspected as members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at a time when Metro Manila was under bomb threats.
During the trial, the policemen insisted that their operation was legitimate and that they were only defending themselves against the armed suspects.
But an eyewitness, Linang Anguso, testified that the two victims were merely OFWs who were set to leave Manila for Jeddah.