Ombud junks Yap's plea vs murder raps

THE Office of the Ombudsman affirmed its earlier ruling on the filing of four counts of murder and frustrated murder against Negros Occidental first district Representative Melecio Yap Jr. and 14 others.

The anti-graft body denied the motion for reconsideration filed separately by Yap, who was the mayor of Escalante City at the time of the incident, and two other respondents, Bernardino Patigas Sr. and Gregory Lobaton Tuayon.

The 10-page consolidated resolution dated July 13 was penned by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Laurrie Layne Cristobal. It was recommended for approval by Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices Cyril Ramos and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

The Ombudsman resolution said the motions for reconsideration are “unmeritorious.”

“Most of the respondents’ arguments centered on the credibility and admissibility of the ‘Dungan Nga Ginsumpaang Nga Pagsaysay,’ the primary basis of the finding of probable cause against them,” the decision said.

It added that Yap’s claim that it should not be admitted in evidence since it was in Cebuano dialect has “no basis,” as it cited the mandate of its office to act on complaints against erring public officer in any form or manner.

“Notwithstanding the language or dialect in which a complaint is written, including the supporting documents which form part of the complaint, this office is enjoined by law to act on it,” the decision said.

It added that regarding the alleged uncorroborated statements of
the two witnesses, the consolidated resolution have sufficiently addressed the issue.

“As to the coincidental filing of the complaints with the 2013 elections, this office holds that the delay in the filing of complaint does not automatically discredit complainants. The offense charged has not prescribed,” the decision said.

It added that even most of the complainants have admitted that they were supporters of the former mayor and the complaints were filed weeks before the election, the facts “do not conclusively establish complainants’ pure political motives. Murder and frustrated murder are heinous crimes. The fact that there were so many supporters of the former mayor who were victims of these crimes raises red flags as to the motive behind their murders and frustrated murder.”

Moreover, the decision said that Patigas’s and Tuayon’s claims that complainants did not specifically charge them and therefore should be exonerated should be denied.

The May 18 resolution stated that between November 2007 and April 2013, six of former Escalante City Mayor Santiago Barcelona Jr.’s supporters Ferjun Damalerio, Jury Alsado Sr., Police Officer 3 Johnny Urbano, Eric Matugas, Armando Lutrago and Joseph Lutrago were murdered. There were also serious attempts on the lives of Fernando Damalerio, Valentino Pabon, and Roger Agaton.
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