NAVY Lt. Junior Grade Benjie Chico, a suspect in the murder of a female Marine officer, remains missing and has been dropped from the military rolls for going on AWOL (absence without leave).
Navy spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo on Sunday disclosed that Chico was the last person seen with 1st Lieutenant Shelina Calumay, 33, before she was found dead. On the morning of November 26 inside her car, parked in front of Juardo Hall at Naval Station Jose Francisco in Fort Andres Bonifacio in Taguig City (Metro Manila).
Arevalo said Chico was dropped from the rolls 10 days after he went AWOL.
Once arrested, he added, the Navy officer would be court-martialed.
Arevalo clarified that the manhunt for Chico is not for the murder of Calumay but only for his going AWOL because legally, the Navy officer is not yet considered a suspect in the death of the Marine.
Still, the Navy spokesman said, “[Chico] is still a person of interest because he was the last person seen with… Lt. Calumay.”
If one is dropped from the rolls, under military rules, he or she is dismissed from the service.
Arevalo pointed out though that an officer like Chico could only be removed on orders of the President.
He said a military court martial, just like a civilian court, could not try the Navy officer in absentia because the Constitution requires that a person being tried before the court or any military administrative body must be given the chance to be heard and the opportunity to face his accuser.
On Calumay’s murder, Arevalo explained it would be the job of the police to file a case if evidence would link Chico to the incident.