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9 NBI agents cleared of torture raps

MANILA, Philippines — Nine agents of the National Bureau of Investigation have been cleared by the Office of the Ombudsman of allegations they tortured two brothers reportedly involved in the disappearance of two online cockfight workers, the NBI said on Monday.

In a statement, the NBI said the ombudsman dismissed the charges against NBI agents Ross Jonathan Galicia, Eduardo Ramos Jr., Levi Mora Orille, Aubrey Cosidon, Eigelbert Pulan, Abner Dotimas, Nestor Gutierrez, Allan Ernesto Elefante and Gary Menez in a joint resolution dated Feb. 12.

The nine agents were members of the NBI-Task Force Against Illegal Drugs (TFAID), now called the NBI Dangerous Drugs Division.

“The ombudsman found no merit in the charges filed against the agents of NBI-TFAID led by… Galicia, who acted within the scope of the law in the performance of their official duty as NBI agents,” the NBI said.

The bureau said the brothers were brought to the Department of Justice for inquest proceedings within the 36-hour reglamentary period.

The charges of graft, grave coercion, rape, planting of drugs as evidence, violations of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act as well as domicile under Article 128 of the Revised Penal Code, incriminating innocent persons and delays in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities were filed before the ombudsman by Joyce Manio in January 2023 after the agents arrested her sons Nicasio and Nicholes Manio, whom she said were police informants at the time.

Manio also filed administrative charges of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, oppression, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, sexual harassment and violation of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees against the agents.

Manio said the agents apprehended Nicasio and Nicholes at their house in Batangas City on June 8, 2021 without a warrant of arrest.

The agents were also accused of beating up the Manio brothers while they were being escorted to the NBI vehicles.

On June 10, 2021, the brothers were presented to media as suspects in the kidnapping and disappearance of online cockfight workers Johnver Francisco and