A MAN who once served as a state witness in a high-profile murder case was arrested for driving a stolen motorcycle in Barangay Poblacion, Compostela.

Police operatives who were on the lookout for a motorcycle believed to have been used in the ambush of former Compostela mayor Joselito “Cocoy” Reynes ran into Ely Doncillo Ardita speeding down the highway.

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Ardita once served as a state witness in the murder case of lawyer Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco.

Police filed a case against Michel Favila for Yongco’s death. He was included as one of those involved but his case was dismissed after he decided to become a state witness.

Yongco was the private prosecutor in the murder case filed against Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association supreme master and now Dinagat Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr.

Cebu Provincial Police Chief Erson Digal said the operatives of the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch (PIDMB) noticed Ardita, and that his description fit that of the driver of the getaway motorcycle in the Reynes ambush.

Like the description, he was dressed in a camouflage jacket and a blue baseball cap.

The PIDMB chased the speeding black motorcycle until they were able to catch up with him at a shop at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Digal said when they asked him to produce documents pertaining to the registration of the motorcycle, he was unable to present any.

Ardita was then taken to the PIDMB office at the CPPO headquarters in Cebu City for further questioning.

He reportedly claimed that the motorcycle belonged to his mother.

Digal said the plate number, GI 9773, was verified at the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

They later learned that the motorcycle was registered to Irene Vallena Garcia, of Sitio Taboc, Barangay Lamac, Liloan.

Upon verification, Garcia told police the motorcycle was stolen.

She said the motorcycle was driven by her brother, Raul Vallena. He was shot dead on May 29, 2008 and the motorcycle was stolen.

His death remained unsolved.

Tip

Digal said they still do not have proof Ardita is linked to Reynes’s ambush, but will charge him for stealing the motorcycle, using Garcia’s statement.

A charge for the violation of Republic Act 6539 or the Anti-Carnapping Law was filed against Ardita before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office yesterday afternoon.

Police acted on a tip from an informant who said a carnapped motorcycle painted black.

Ardita was spotted wearing a camouflage jacket, which fit the description of the companion of Wilson Pasaol, suspected gunman of Reynes.

Digal hopes to gather witnesses who can link Ardita to Reynes’s ambush.

He told reporters that Ardita’s statements were inconsistent.

He said at first, the motorcycle was painted even before Reynes was shot. At another time, he said it was painted after.

Digal said the black paint on the motorcycle was clearly new and that it used to be red.

Police are currently looking for the gunman in the case. They earlier identified Dominador Viloria Sr. as one of the lookouts in the killing of Reynes.