Oct 16, 2020 @ 9:26

CA affirms order for cop linked to La Union vice-mayor’s slay to provide DNA samples

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed an order for DNA testing to be conducted on samples to be taken from a policeman linked to the killing of Balaoan, La Union, Vice-Mayor Al-Fred Concepcion on November 14, 2018.

In a recent 12-page decision, the CA Special 8th Division denied the petition of Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Dario Cahigas to block the testing ordered by San Fernando City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 29 Judge Asuncion Fikingas-Mandia.

Mandia in a February 22, 2019 resolution granted the application of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent Nolly Bautista for DNA testing, so Cahigas’s samples could be compared against the DNA in the blood stains found in the Toyota Rav4 vehicle where he and SPO3 Villamor Laya were found wounded and unconscious. (Laya died in the hospital.)

Two of Concepcion’s bodyguards who survived the ambush claimed they were able to fire at the suspects who emerged from a Toyota Rav4. Although the assailants fled the scene, a jogger saw the Toyota Rav4 being driven slowly from the passenger seat as the driver had been fatally wounded.

Cahigas argued that the DNA testing order would only be used to aid an investigation as he had not been formally charged with murder at the time Bautista filed his application. He contended that the application was “accusatory intending to incriminate” him for Concepcion’s killing.

The policeman claimed that he and Laya were actually inspecting the Toyota Rav4 after finding it abandoned. A white pick-up truck supposedly stopped and its occupants fired upon them, although this was contradicted by eyewitnesses who did not hear any gunshots.

The CA, however, said it “finds nothing irregular, much less, grave abuse of discretion, in the court a quo’s order granting the application for DNA Testing of petitioner Cahigas.”

It said Section 4 of the Rule on DNA Evidence clearly provides that “a DNA testing may be done even without a court order at the behest of law enforcement agencies before a suit or proceeding is commenced.”

The CA noted that the trial court deemed the NBI to have established the existence of probable cause for the issuance of an order for DNA testing.

It cited the NBI’s assertion that several pieces of DNA evidence were collected from the scene of the ambush, from the getaway vehicle and from a bloodied cap and mask.

The CA pointed out that the DNA testing would either prove the NBI’s allegations or Cahigas’s version of the events.

“With petitioner Cahigas claiming to be a victim himself, there is likewise a need to determine his and SPO3 Laya’s assailants,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Garcia.

“Thus, the DNA identification is a fertile source of both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence, and can assist in effecting a more accurate account of the crime committed and for the resolution of the crime being investigated,” it added.

Charges for double murder and four counts of attempted murder were finally filed before the Balaoan RTC against Cahigas and several John Does last August 12. The policeman surrendered five days later. #

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