Ex-mayor eyes million damage suit against ambushed lawyer

FORMER Salvador Benedicto mayor Jose Max Ortiz said he is contemplating on filing a million damage suit against lawyer Erfe Del Castillo for dragging his name into the case relative to her ambush.

Ortiz said he will no longer wait for the subpoena as he will go to the Talisay City Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday, February 6, to receive it.

He also said he will manifest in his counter-affidavit that he will be filing a million damage suit against Del Castillo for tagging him in the case.

Ortiz was among the respondents on the murder and frustrated murder charges that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed before the Talisay City Prosecutor's Office.

Also named respondents were Catherine Berioso-Cabuga, also known as Kate Brios, her mother Shirley Berioso and sister Caselyn Berioso, former Bacolod City Police Office director Senior Superintendent Francisco Ebreo, Superintendent Richie Yatar, Senior Inspector James Adrian Albaytar, Senior Police Officer 2 Joshua Barile, Police Officer 3 Ronald Ortiz, a news hen, and several John Does.

Ortiz was the legal counsel of Berioso-Cabuga.

The ambush in December 2018 led to the death of the lawyer’s fiancee, former policeman Efren Palmares.

Del Castillo earlier claimed that Ortiz was with the suspects who ambushed them.

Ortiz said he is just smiling to hear the allegations of Del Castillo and that he feels pity for her.

“She is too naive that she has already joined a syndicate where she could not get out from it anymore. Now we are convinced that the dragging of the names of Ebreo, Yatar, and other police in the alleged drug operation in the city was only drawn up into the issue. In the same way in implicating our names in the ambush of lawyer Erfe with somebody orchestrating the whole scenario. She is too naive to be used as a pawn in this game,” Ortiz claimed.

Ebreo and Yatar were earlier sacked from their posts after President Rodrigo Duterte publicly linked them and other police in the illegal drug trade.

It can be recalled that in November 2018, there was a standoff at the Metro Inn Hotel, which was owned by the Cabuga couple, in Bacolod City.

Del Castillo is the counsel of Berioso-Cabuga’s estranged husband, Francis Cabuga.

“My piece of advice to my kumpanyera, maybe it's high time now that she should consult a psychiatrist or a priest who could guide her about the truth. Tell the truth and don’t be afraid. Whoever is ordering you, you should reveal it to the public and don't be afraid because the truth will still come out,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz said that he is wondering why his name is being dragged by Del Castillo into the case when they have been very close.

“During the Metro Inn standoff, she even hugged me behind. In fact, I already told my client, Kate Brios, that once it is already a personal case involving Atty. Erfe, I will inhibit. Maybe I can facilitate some facts but to the point that I will personally intervene, we belong to the same profession, I understand her role in a case,” he said.

“I kept on telling her that the Metro Inn case, we should look not at the criminal aspect of the case but the moral side of it. I’ve been telling her that once and for all, we should mend the couple involving their disagreements on their being a couple. We should be professional and not that we will ignite more fire to the quarrel,” Ortiz added.

He cannot be coward by such case against him, which is one of the several controversial cases that he has been handling as a lawyer, Ortiz said.

“I already expected that they will drag me in the case. Don’t joke with me because I don't retreat in wars like this. Don't try me and my group because I know we are for the truth,” Ortiz dared.

He said that their group will come out with a statement at a press conference to answer all the questions and issues pertaining to the case.

Meanwhile, John Chiong, national commander of Task Force Kasanag, lamented that the NBI failed to follow the standard operating procedure in the filing of the case.

Chiong claimed that the NBI failed to follow the rules on the subpoena and that the filing of the case was done without conducting a thorough investigation.

“Maybe we should abolish the NBI office here in Bacolod because they were bypassed as the complaint filed before the regional office of the NBI,” Chiong pointed out.

He also questioned why the complainant was the one who talked about the case and not the NBI.

The NBI should observe a sense of fairness being a national investigating body, Chiong said.

Chiong added, he is hoping that nobody is behind the filing of the case and they received information that a powerful and influential person in the province has been scouting around to pursue his personal motive.

He refused to name the said person.

He said that they will file a formal complaint before the NBI and the Department of Justice relative to the conduct and handling of the NBI on this particular case.


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