By Benjamin Pulta

GUILTY. The six dismissed cops charged with murder over the killing of 17-year-old Jerhode “Jemboy” Baltazar arrive at the Navotas City Regional Trial Court for the promulgation of the case on Tuesday (Feb. 27, 2024). The court convicted one of the six police officers of homicide over Baltazar’s death. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Navotas Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Tuesday convicted one of six dismissed police officers of homicide over the death of 17-year-old Jerhode “Jemboy” Baltazar in a case of mistaken identity.

In a 44-page decision, RTC Branch 286 Judge Pedro Dabu Jr. found Staff Sgt. Gerry Maliban guilty of homicide and sentenced him to four years in jail.

Maliban admitted to opening fire on the teenager during a Senate inquiry on the matter.

The court, meanwhile, found Executive Master Sgt. Roberto Balais Jr., Staff Sgt. Nikko Esquillon, Cpl. Edward Blanco, and Pat. Benedict Mangada guilty of the illegal discharge of firearms.

A lone accused, Staff Sgt. Antonio Bugayong, was acquitted.

The six cops were dismissed from the service in September last year.

State prosecutors initially filed murder charges against the six.

On Aug. 2, 2023, the police officers launched an operation to pursue a murder suspect when they chanced upon Baltazar on a boat.

They commanded Baltazar and his companion to surrender. However, the victim jumped into the river, prompting law enforcers to fire, resulting in his death.

The police officers later admitted that Baltazar was not the suspect they were looking for but a certain Reynaldo Bolivar. (PNA)