THE law firm that represents the five former Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 operatives charged with killing a lawyer has withdrawn from the case.
But Inocencio de la Cerna Jr., of Dela Cerna and Associates Law Offices, clarified that he and the policemen “mutually agreed” to end his services as their counsel.
He said he will no longer represent Senior Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion and PO1 Alex Bacani, who were “very disappointed” by the prosecutor’s resolution indicting them for multiple murder and frustrated murder.
Making it formal
“Considering that there is a new development indicting them, I gave their free choice whether to retain our services or hire another lawyer,” dela Cerna told reporters.
He submitted yesterday to the Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor a motion withdrawing as a counsel for the three policemen.
In his 37-page resolution released on Aug.28, Acting Provincial Prosecutor Jesus Rodrigo Taga-an found enough evidence to charge Iglesia, Lerion and Bacani with multiple murder and frustrated murder.
Taga-an pointed out the respondents “conspired” to kill lawyer Noel Archival and his two aides in Barangay Coro, Dalaguete last Feb. 18.
On the other hand, Taga-an dismissed the complaint against Chief Insp. Eduardo Mara, former HPG Cebu provincial chief, and SPO4 Edwin Galan.
The prosecutor said there was no direct evidence to prove conspiracy but “conspiracy need not be proved by direct evidence of prior agreement to commit the crime.”
Before Taga-an issued his resolution, dela Cerna said Iglesia, Lerion and Bacani were of “serious belief” that they would be cleared of charges.
Dela Cerna said he briefed the three policemen of their indictment and offered them to hire other legal services in case they were not satisfied with his services.
He dismissed insinuation that he withdrew because it is an “oblique case,” following the indictment of the three respondents.
“Right from the start, we honestly believed that we could absolve them (respondents) from the case,” he said.
Dela Cerna described as a “good one” his handling of the case for about five months and that his withdrawal from the case is a “tactical legal move.”
In his motion to withdraw as a counsel, dela Cerna said Iglesia informed his legal firm that “he is consenting to the termination of our legal services contract effective immediately.”
He said the three respondents will be represented by their Manila-based lawyers.
Prosecution lawyer Gloria Lastimosa-Dalawampu praised dela Cerna, whom she described as a “very worthy opponent.”
“His skills in law and court practice are at par or even better than any other lawyer.
The defense has lost an able and indefatigable defender,” she said in a text message.
Despite their opposing legal views, Dalawampu said dela Cerna has always been a gentleman and a friend. “As he leaves, I wish to let him know that he has my high regard and esteem as a brother lawyer,” she said.