Ex-Davao Sur guv to face murder rap

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Friday, August 29, 2014

MANILA -- Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has ordered the filing of a murder case against former Davao del Sur governor Douglas Cagas and three others for killing journalist Nestor Bedolido Sr. four years ago.

Set to face the same case as well before the Digos City Regional Trial Court branch 19 are Matanao, Davao del Sur Mayor Vicente "Butch" Fernandez, Ali Ordaneza and Bado Sanchez based on the resolution signed by the Justice chief on August 26.

De Lima also directed the Digos City Prosecutor's Office to withdraw the cases against self-confessed gunman Voltaire Mirafuentes and his brother, Henry Mirafuentes Jr., and Artemio Timosan Jr., leaning on Voltaire's confession that Cagas and Fernandez are the masterminds of the killing.

Ordaneza, meanwhile, was among those who participated in planning and carrying out the murder, according to Voltaire.

The case landed on De Lima's desk after Bedolido's son, Marxlen, filed an appeal to the resolutions issued by Digos City Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Guingoyon and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano that found no probable cause to charge the ex-governor and mayor in court.

Both prosecutors invoked the res inter alios acta rule, which means Voltaire's extrajudicial statement can only be used against him and not on his co-respondents.

De Lima said Guingoyon and Arellano erred in the application of the rule, noting this is only used in a court trial.

She warned that applying the rule during the preliminary investigation will "stifle" prosecution and is "inconsistent" with the role of the prosecutor, which is to determine probable cause only.

"Applying the res inter alios acta rule during the preliminary investigation will prevent witnesses to repeat in court during the trial their extrajudicial confessions and result in the loss of opportunity to transpose such confessions into judicial admissions to render them admissible in evidence," the resolution stated.

She said Voltaire's admission is direct evidence against Cagas, Fernandez, Ordaneza and Sanchez, which can be debunked when the gunman testifies during the trial and "where the parties can have a 'full and exhaustive display of evidence.'"

"The issue here is the admissibility of the testimony of Voltaire. It is a well-settled principle that 'the admissibility or inadmissibility of said testimony should be ventilated before the trial court during the trial proper and not in the preliminary investigation,'" De Lima said.

Voltaire said Cagas and Fernandez made him to believe in a meeting on June 19, 2010 that Bedolido was sowing and spreading intrigues, which became the reason for the killing of his parents on September 9, 2009.

He said Cagas even promised him that he had nothing to worry because the police was under his control and no case will reach the court.

Voltaire's parents, Henry and Brenda, previously worked as Cagas' confidential staff.

They were ambushed by Apolinario "Jun" Gamayot Jr. and Elizardo "Doydoy" Bac, Fernandez's former security men whom he allegedly fired for working as spies of his political opponent.

Voltaire killed Bedolido hours after the meeting at Cagas’ home. The newspaperman was gunned down outside the Torecs videoke bar along Quezon Avenue in Digos City.

Henry acted as lookout and driver of the getaway motorcycle.

Both Cagas and Fernandez repeatedly denied the accusations against them.

Cagas, who claimed the allegation is the handiwork of political rivals, said he was in Manila when the incident happened. (Sunnex)

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