MOISES Padilla Mayor Ella Celestinal Garcia-Yulo confirmed over the weekend that a regional trial court in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental has ordered the release from detention of the town's vice mayor and three councilors after posting a bail of P200,000 each.

The four were implicated in the murder of then councilor Jolomar Hilario in 2019 together with former Isabela Mayor Joselito Malabor and two barangay captains in Isabela town and several others.

Garcia was also implicated in the crime but was cleared after it was established that she was in jail for a different case when the alleged plan for Hilario's murder was hatched.

The release order was issued June 25, 2022 by acting Presiding Judge Eric Anthony Dumpilo of Branch 64, 7th Judicial Region, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Dumpilo earlier approved the motion to bail by the accused after the lone witness of the prosecution recanted.

The release order was issued to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Bacolod City where Vice Mayor Ian Villafor and Councilor Jimmiedon Plaza are detained and to the town's police chief where Councilors Morito Flores and Vincent Garcia are detained together with town's Quintin Remo Barangay Captain Fely Villaflor and her husband Jonathan who were also implicated in the case.

All accused maintained innocence of the crime, which the New People's Army (NPA) declared was their handmaking.

Hilario was attacked inside his house in Barangay Inolingan, Moises Padilla town by about 20 armed men believed to be members of the NPA in March 2019.

It can be recalled that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 63 in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental ordered in February 2021 the arrest of Villaflor and the three councilors, as well as Jonathan and Fely and the other suspects including Malabor.

On August 23, Flores and the Villaflor couple, Jonathan and Fely, surrendered at the town police station where they were detained.

Four days later, on August 27, Garcia, nephew of Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo, also surrendered to the police.

Villaflor and Plaza voluntarily surrendered on September 1, 2021, to Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer after six months and were placed in the custody of the NBI-Bacolod.

Malabor and two barangay captains of Isabela town, who were also implicated in the crime, surrendered to Ferrer last February 10.

It could not be established though as of press time if they posted bail.

Vice Mayor Villaflor said he is thankful for the support of all the people who have helped them endure their more than one year of detention because of a crime they have nothing to do with and which he claimed is politically motivated.

Villaflor won his reelection bid in the May 9 elections while in detention together with reelectionist Councilor Vincent Garcia.

But Plaza and Flores who also sought reelection lost their bid. (PR)