DOJ reverses self on murder case vs Recto brother

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

(Updated) THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has junked its previous finding in 2009 that former Batangas Vice Governor Ricky Recto was involved in the failed assassination attempt on then Batangas Governor Armando Sanchez nearly eight years ago.

Recto, brother of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, was facing cases of murder, frustrated murder and damage to property in connection with the bombing of Sanchez's high-end vehicle outside the Provincial Capitol on June 1, 2006 in Batangas City.

Sanchez survived the blast but his driver and closed-in security died.

Witnesses claimed that Recto conspired with a group of disgruntled soldiers under Makabayang Kawal Pilipino to kill Sanchez, who was reportedly corrupt and protector of jueteng operations in the province.

Recto was allegedly present at a meeting of the soldiers regarding the assassination plot. The former politician denied the allegations.

In a resolution, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva granted Recto's motion for reconsideration, citing lack of probable cause to pursue the complaint.

"Even if there was really a conversation that transpired between the military officers and Recto on how to destroy a vehicle and whether C-4, a plastic explosive, is sufficient to effectively carry out the purpose, still as based on the very same statements, there was never any meeting of the minds, no concrete agreement or plan was arrived at, no conspiracy was ever established, no definite personalities were identified that would be the subject and as to who would effectuate such plans were discussed," stated the resolution dated December 26, 2013.

Villanueva added that the witnesses, who are also soldiers, were absent during the actual planting of the bomb on Sanchez's vehicle.

"These witnesses are not even aware as to what time the bomb was planted, how it was planted and what kind of bomb was used. Most of all, who actually planted the bomb remains uncertain as of this writing," the resolution read.

He said no one among the military officers conspired to assassinate Sanchez and that all statements given by the soldiers were hearsay "as told to them allegedly by their co-respondents."

"The evidence on hand points that the bombing could have been perpetrated by any other individual," Villanueva said.

The resolution is only applicable to Recto, making co-respondents lawyer Christopher Belmonte Christina Antonio, Bettina Balderama, Lieutenant Angelbert Gay, 2nd Lieutenant Aldrin Baldonado and Lieutenant Junior Grade Kiram Sadava liable for the crime before the Makati City Regional Trial Court branch 148.

Sanchez died at the heat of the 2010 gubernatorial elections due to stroke. His wife replaced him in the race but lost to incumbent Governor Vilma Santos, Recto's sister-in-law. (Sunnex)

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