By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

NOT OFF THE HOOK. The mugshots of the two police officers who are among the five suspects in the killing of  Capt. Rolando Moralde in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte. The PNP on Monday (May 13, 2024) said the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) is studying the possibility of transferring the venue of the preliminary investigation on the murder charges against the suspects in Moralde’s killing. (Photo courtesy of PNP)

MANILA – The Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) is studying the possibility of transferring the venue of the preliminary investigation on the murder charges against five suspects, including two police officers, in the fatal shooting of Capt. Rolando Moralde in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte, a police official said Monday.

In a press briefing at Camp Crame, Quezon City, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said the case may be transferred to “another city or even in Metro Manila”.

This came after two suspects, Police Master Sergeants Aladdin Ramalan and Shariff Balading, were released on May 8 following an order from the Maguindanao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecutor questioned the two cops’ detention following a “warrantless arrest”, noting that the complaint affidavit does not contain necessary evidence to prove the essential elements of murder. The complaint was recommended for further case build-up.

“They were not arrested by virtue of warrantless arrest but in fact, voluntary surrendered, hence the arrest and surrender are distinct and separate concepts. An act of voluntary surrender cannot and will never be a subject of arrest as contemplated in the existing rules of court,” Fajardo said.

She said they also received information that the two suspects may be relatives of the prosecutor.

“But it has to be validated, it was one of the considerations mentioned by the Regional Director of PRO-BAR,” she said.

She said the PRO-BAR maintained in its position paper that Ramalan and Balading turned themselves in following their implication on the incident.

It noted that the surrender was properly documented and was witnessed by one of the suspect’s sisters.

To support their murder complaints, the PRO-BAR also submitted closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of the incident which they believe “will suffice and constitute prima facie evidence” to prove that what happened to Moralde constitutes murder.

“The blotter was submitted as supporting evidence to the complaint that was filed. The evidence submitted was the actual death certificate of Capt. Moralde and it was clear in the CCTV footage that the suspect was already lying on the ground when he was shot to death. The copy of the CCTV footage was extracted to serve as evidence,” Fajardo said.

Meanwhile, she said the PRO-BAR had issued an order on May 10 putting Ramalan and Balading, who were relieved from their respective posts, under restrictive custody within its headquarters.

Earlier, the two cops were positive in the paraffin test after the ballistic examination.

Fajardo said the two cops would also face administrative charges and have surrendered their service firearms, which would undergo ballistic examination to know if these were used in the incident.

Meanwhile, the three other suspects remain at large.

Reports said Moralde and his officers were on market chores inside the town’s public market on May 2 when he noticed a man with a pistol on his waist, later identified as Mohiden Untal.

Moralde confronted Untal but the suspect resisted and shot him. He also fired back and hit Untal.

The five suspects shot Moralde dead. They turned out to be Untal’s relatives. (PNA)