In an order dated February 26, Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 15 Judge Eduardo Ramon Reyes dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by the defense panel on an earlier order by the court dated Oct. 26, 2018 denying their demurrer to evidence.
"This court is of the opinion that such assertions constitute matters of defense which should be passed upon only after a full-blown trial of the merits," the judge said, even as State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera accused defense lawyers of delaying the proceedings.
"Based on the foregoing, there are pieces of evidence which prove that the accused fired upon the Taiwanese Vessel GDX No.28. That in furtherance of the prosecution's theory of conspiracy all of the accused may be held liable for the crime charged, unless they sufficiently proved the contrary," Reyes said in his order.
In 2014, state prosecutors charged eight PCG officials and personnel in connection with the death on May 9,2013 of Taiwanese fisherman, Hong Shi Cheng.
Cheng was aboard the fishing vessel Guang Da Xing No. 28 when it was fired upon by members of the PCG on board the MCS-3001, a patrol boat belonging to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Charged were Commanding Officer Arnold Enriquez dela Cruz; and Seaman 1st Class (Sn1) Edrando Quiapo Aguila, Mhelvin Aguilar Bendo II, Andy Gibb Ronario Golfo, Sunny Galang Masangcay, Henry Baco Solomon; Seaman 2nd Class (Sn2) Nicky Renold D. Aurello; and Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz.
Prosecutors have rejected the claim of fulfillment or performance of lawful duty saying being a hostile vessel per se does not authorize the use of deadly force under the PCG Rules of Engagement.