Felonia claims police trying to pin him down

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


DAVAO CITY -- Police Superintendent Leonardo Felonia, former director of the Regional Intelligence Unit based here, finally broke his silence on accusation that he was behind the killing of prominent businessman Richard Lim King, claiming authorities were just making up stories to pin him down.

Through his legal counsel Caesar Europa, Felonia, who was charged with the murder of the Cebuano businessman, filed his counter-affidavit before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, denying any involvement in the murder.

He insisted that the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) has made false accusations against him.

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One of the main contentions that the accused raised in his counter-affidavit was the allegations of conspiracy between him and three other suspects Paul Labang and siblings Rommel and Rodel dela Cerna.

Felonia maintained that DCPO had no evidence to prove that there was a conspiracy between him and the other suspects.

It was earlier revealed in the extrajudicial confessions of the three other suspects that on June 9 and 10, Felonia allegedly called Labang and told him to go to his office to claim the P120,000 payment and the picture of King, who was killed inside his office at Vital C building on Sobrecarey street in Bo. Obrero last June 12.

DCPO on July 22 submitted a forensic examination on the mobile phone of Labang and Rodel to substantiate the claim that there was communication between Labang and Felonia relating to the murder.

But the results of the forensic examination proved otherwise, as it showed that no call was made on June 9 and 10.

Moreover, Felonia presented screenshots of his mobile phone showing the actual exchange of text messages between him and Labang.

Contrary to the allegations that their text message exchange on March 14 was about the murder plot, the screenshot showed that Labang was only asking Felonia if he would be joining a shooting competition, which the latter replied that he was still attending another event at that time.

A text message exchange on June 19 also showed that Labang was just requesting for a mission order for a firearm and Felonia approved it and told him to go to his office the following week.

This was contrary to the allegation that the message exchange on June 19 was to inform Felonia that the job was done and that he told Labang to claim additional incentives after the assassination.

Felonia also challenged the discrepancy in the date the forensic examination result was submitted, inquiring why it took until July 22 for the DCPO to submit the report when it was already finished on July 4.

"A reading of the forensic examination result will show why it was submitted late and the reason why is the fact that standing alone, the result shows nothing incriminating against me and instead it will benefit me. Thus, the 'director' of the DCPO telenovela against me needed time to craft a story fitted to the results of the said forensic examination to give the same criminal context," Felonia said.

Felonia also denied having issued a letter order to the suspects as attested by Police Officer 2 Joel Tabios, who is responsible for processing letter orders in the Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU)-Davao.

He said the DCPO has been selective in presenting evidence, noting that they chose not to submit the ballistic examination on the firearm recovered from Labang, as it showed that it was not the same firearm used in the murder of King.

The accused also contested the credibility and admissibility of the extrajudicial confession of Labang and the Dela Cernas, claiming the manner by which they were arrested and was subjected to investigation was illegal, thus the extrajudicial confessions are inadmissible.

"Even assuming that Labang was validly arrested for illegal possession of firearms, the fact of the matter is that neither he nor the Dela Cerna brothers could be validly arrested without a warrant for the murder of King for the simple reason that more than ten days had passed since the crime happened," he said.

Europa, meanwhile, cited two court rulings that suggest the DCPO had no personal knowledge on the involvement of the three in the murder of King, and that they should not have been charged through summary inquest proceedings.

Other than the illegality of the arrest, Felonia insisted that the three suspects were deprived of their rights when investigators took their extrajudicial confessions as it was violation of the Republic Act 7438 or the Act defining certain rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation, as well as the duties of arresting, detaining and investigating officers.

Felonia also accused the investigators for violation of the Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 after the suspects were not put under physical and mental examination before and after getting their extrajudicial confessions.

Europa told Sun.Star Davao that he submitted the counter-affidavit to Prosecutor Panfilo Lovitos last Friday but the latter will take time to weigh details of the counter-affidavit and the complaint before resolving the case. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 11, 2014.

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