Baldo asks Duterte, DOJ: ‘Review Batocabe slay case’

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2019   •   1420

Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo

MANILA, Philippines – Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo maintains his innocence in the killing of Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe.

In a press conference on Friday, Baldo appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to review the case and evidence presented, and to find the real perpetrators of the crime.

“Nananawagan ako sa ating mga kinauukulan lalo na higit sa ating Pangulong Duterte at sa ating Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra na basahin at rebyuhing mabuti ang kasong ito lalo’t higit ang mga nakalap na physical evidence ng PNP na tukuyin kung sino talaga ang mga taong nasa likod nito,” Baldo said.

(I appeal to authorities, especially to President Duterte and Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra to review my case, especially the physical evidence gathered by the Philippine National Police to find the real perpetrators of the crime)

Baldo is facing two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder before the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in relation to the death of Batocabe.

READ: Daraga Mayor Baldo faces murder raps over Batocabe slay

Baldo was tagged as the mastermind in the killing of Batocabe who was shot dead while attending a gift-giving event for senior citizens in Daraga town last December 22, 2018.

His security detail, PO1 Orlando Diaz, also died in the incident.

Batocabe was eyeing the mayoral seat of Daraga in the 2019 polls prior to his assassination.

READ: Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo named as mastermind in Rep. Batocabe’s slay

Baldo was arrested in January 2019 after unlicensed firearms were found inside his residence during a search operation.

He was later released after posting a bail of P3 million.

READ: Suspended Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo out on bail

“Inosente po ako at wala po akong kinalaman sa nasabing kaso. Bilang pulitiko, di ko po kailanman naging gawain na gamitan ng puwersa ang aking mga katunggali,” he said.

(I am innocent and I am not involved in the said case. As a politician, I have never used force against my rivals.)

Baldo also said that those behind the crime wanted to get rid of him although he refused to divulge any name.

“Habang lumalapit ang election ay dumadami po ang intelligence report na nagsasabing may mga taong nais akong patahimikin,” he said.

(As the local election nears, intelligence reports are piling up which state about the attempts of some people to silence me)

Atty. Merito Fernandez, Baldo’s lawyer, also insisted that the case should have been dismissed because of numerous inconsistencies made by witnesses and evidence gathered by investigators.

Fernandez also pointed out that the autopsy report conducted on Batocabe’s body does not match the testimony given by the alleged gunman, Henry Yuson, who said he shot the late lawmaker four times.

Yuson and four others, namely Christopher Naval, Jaywin Babor, Rolando Arimando and Emmanuelle Roselle were also charged with murder and attempted murder over Batocabe slay. – Robie de Guzman

Duterte orders gov’t agencies to respond to quake-affected residents in Mindanao

Marje Pelayo   •   October 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte expressed sympathy to those who were affected by the earthquake in several parts of Mindanao, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

In a statement, Panelo said the administration is asking the public to refrain from spreading disinformation which may cause undue alarm, panic, and stress to many.

In view of possible aftershocks, the Palace asks the public to remain calm and vigilant.

Panelo also gave the assurance that the national government, through the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), is closely monitoring the situation and that the President has already ordered concerned agencies to act appropriately in assisting those who were affected.

“The Office of the President has already tasked all concerned agencies of the government to mobilize, respond and provide immediate assistance to those in need, as well as to study plans on how to rehabilitate the damaged areas,” Panelo concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Senate asks DOJ for protection of witnesses vs. ‘ninja cops’

Maris Federez   •   October 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Wednesday (Oct. 16) requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to give protection to the witnesses in the Agaw-Bato operations of the so-called “ninja cops”.

In a phone interview, Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said they want to ensure that the testimonies of the witnesses are filed before the Court.

“[It] means that they will go to the court and they will execute an affidavit there. And in which case, if anything happens, hopefully not, that will be admissible in court,” Gordon added.

Among the witnesses that Gordon was referring to were the barangay officials that Johnson Lee sought help from when he was arrested in the police buy-bust operation in November 2010 in the province of Pampanga.

Other witnesses were the police personnel in Mexico, Pampanga, where the alleged cover-up took place when the barangay officials brought Lee to the station.

Lee reportedly paid P50-M to the police for his release.

After releasing Lee, the police arrested another Chinese suspect.

Gordon said they will leave it to the DOJ to determine whether these officers deserve to be under the government’s witness protection program (WPP).

The senator also said they will let Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, retired police Rudy Lacadin, and the other police officers decide if they want to undergo the said process.

Justice Sec. Guevarra said they shall await the Senate’s formal request before they set into action.

Meanwhile, Gordon said they will try their best to complete the committee report on their investigation on the said illegal operation in the police force.

The Blue Ribbon Committee chairman said that included in the report are the possible recommendations as to who must be held liable on the said illegal activity.

He stressed that resigned-Philippine National Police (PNP) chief PGen. Oscar Albayalde will still be facing charges relative to the said controversy.

“Tanungin ninyo ako kung pwede pa siyang kasuhan (Ask me if he can be charged). The answer is yes. Tanungin ninyo ko kung criminal. (Ask me if it’s a criminal [case]).  The answer could be yes, kung may enough evidence kami (if we have enough evidence). And I think we do,” Gordon said. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Duterte names former House Speaker Belmonte special envoy to Japan

Robie de Guzman   •   October 16, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte (L) raises the hand of former House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte in an undated photo that was released on May 10, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has named former House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte as Special Envoy to Japan.

Based on a document from Malacañang released on Wednesday, Belmonte was appointed as special envoy to Japan for trade and market access.

Belmonte was appointed by Duterte on Oct. 15, Tuesday.

He served as Representative of the 4th District of Quezon City for three terms, and was elected as House speaker of the 15th and 16th Congress during the time of former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III, respectively.

Belmonte was Liberal Party’s former vice chairman before he resigned in September last year. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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