PCG officer in Balintang shooting pleads not guilty
MANILA, Philippines—A commanding officer of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday pleaded not guilty to the crime of homicide for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman in Balintang Channel in May last year.
PCG Commanding Officer Arnold Enriquez dela Cruz pleaded not guilty to the killing of fisherman Hung Shih-cheng at the Batanes Regional Trial Court Branch 13.
The court has set the preliminary conference of De la Cruz’s case on September 1 and 2 while his pre-trial has been scheduled to October 6 and 7, according to Asst. State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera.
The court, however, deferred the arraignment of Cruz’ co-accused Seamen 1st Class (SN1) Edrando Aguila, Mhelvin Bendo II, Andy Golfo, Sunny Masangcay and Henry Solomon; SN2 Nicky Aurello; and Petty Officer 2 Richard Fernandez Corpuz due to their pending petition for review at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and a petition for a change of venue before the Supreme Court.
Atty. Rodrigo Moreno said under the rules, there is an automatic suspension of the proceedings for 60 days if there is a pending motion.
Last year, the PCG personnel were on board a vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, patrolling off the coast of Balintang island when they intercepted the Taiwanese fishing vessel allegedly poaching.
After a brief sea chase, they fired at the fishing vessel, killing the Taiwanese fisherman.
The incident sparked tension between the Philippines and Taiwan.
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