THREE former police officers on Thursday were convicted by the Lucena City Regional Trial Court for the 2019 murder of a Quezon town mayor’s son and his aide in Tayabas City.
Police Lt. Col. Mark Joseph Laygo, former station commander of the Tayabas City Police Station, and his men Cpl. Lonald Sumalpong, and Pat. Robert Legazpi were sentenced to two life imprisonment by Judge Dennis Orendain of the Lucena City Regional Trial Court.
The three were charged for the killing of Christian Gayeta, the 21-year-old son of Sariaya Mayor Marcelo Gayeta; and Christian Manalo, 38, in Tayabas City on the night of March 13, 2019.
Laygo made it appear that the victims died in a shootout with his men at a police checkpoint.
Not convinced with the police report, Mayor Gayeta sought the help of Dominador Villanueva, the then agent in charge of the National Bureau of Investigation-Lucena District Office.
The NBI conducted its own investigation.
Villanueva’ s team was able to gather physical evidence, including a camera footage, showing the two victims still alive while handcuffed and facing the ground shortly after they were flagged down by cops manning a checkpoint in Tayabas City.
The footage taken by a rookie cop was ordered deleted by Laygo but NBI forensic experts managed to have it retrieved after the former yielded the camera to Villanueva.
The three cop-suspects went into hiding but eventually surfaced, saying they were innocent.
In a resolution dated October 17, 2019 signed by then Police Regional Office 4-A commander Brig. Gen. Edward Carranza, the PNP-Regional Internal Affairs Service ordered the dismissal from the service of the suspects.
Mayor Gayeta expressed relief and gratefulness with the court verdict.
“Tatlong taon, siyam na buwan at dalawampu’t walong araw kaming naghintay, sa wakas ay dumating din ang aming pinakahihintay. Bagama’t hindi na maibabalik ang buhay ng aking anak, maraming buhay naman ang naligtas sa kamay ng mga dating pulis na ‘yon. Salamat sa Diyos,” said Gayeta.