Army admits real identity of accused in Bayles murder case

Families and friends of Benjamin Bayles and members of the activist organizations KARAPATAN and BAYAN hold protest action on October 25, 2012 in front of the Hall of Justice in Himamaylan City as the court hears the testimonies of a witness officially sent by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the continuing trial of Bayles Murder Case.

After two years, the Philippine Army finally admitted in court that the two accused in Bayles Murder Case are members of the 61st Infantry Battalion and revealed their real names and identity and that the accused have been using pseudonyms / aliases.

Col. Alexis Gopico, Adjutant General of the Philippine Army pinpointed to accuse Roger Bajon as Private First Class Rafael Cordova and accuse Ronnie Caurino as Private First Class Reygine Laus. They were members of the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company of 61st Infantry Battalion formerly based in Sitio Barasbarasan, Brgy. Manlucahoc, Sipalay City and were discharged from service since May 2011 with the alleged involvement in Bayles Murder Case as the reason.

The testimonies and documents presented made by Col. Gopico are important to establish the real identities of the accused that were allegedly using pseudonyms since arrested by the police in Kabankalan City.  We have known the facts before the admittance in court. PFC Reygine Laus who is using Ronnie Caurino is first to be known in his true name because he was pinpointed by the witnesses.

The allegations of the human rights groups that the accused are members of the Army become more clear while the lies of Col Ricardo Bayhon and Col Maximo Caro are exposed.

Col. Ricardo Bayhon, former Battalion Commander of 61st Infantry Battalion and 3rd Military Intelligence Battallion (MIB) and Brig. Gen. Maximo Caro (presently Chief of Staff Philippine Army and formerly 303rd Infantry Brigade Commanding Officer) were denying that the arrested suspects are members of the Philippine Army and continue to deny even after they were informed of the identity of the accused. They become an accomplished to suppressed evidence by allowing their enlisted personnel to use aliases. They should be investigated for their dishonorable acts as officers of the Philippine Army.

Atty. Edre Olalia, the National Secretary General of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), who was present during the hearing as part of the prosecution said, “The truth has come out and now it can be told. The cases of extrajudicial killings of activist and members of progressive people’s organizations were perpetrated by a special operation team whose members are enlisted personnel of the Philippine Army. It strengthened our claim that EJKs are indispensable component of the government’s counter-insurgency program.”

Families and friends of Benjie Bayles are glad with the development of the trial. The successful prosecution will be a great contribution to end impunity in cases of extrajudicial killings. We will continue our vigilance and will not stop until the perpetrators are convicted. ###

Fred M. Cana
Contact No: 09399209706