Archival’s case finally moving

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

AFTER six months, the prosecutor designated to handle the case on the ambush-slay of lawyer Noel Archival and two of his aides finally resolved the case. In his resolution, Acting Provincial Prosecutor Jesus Rodrigo Tagaan found enough evidence to charge three former Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 officers with multiple murder and frustrated murder cases for the killing of Archival, his aide Candido Miñoza and his driver Alejandro Jayme. Another aide, Paolo Cortes, was wounded.

Of the five former HPG 7 officers originally charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7, only three were indicted. They are Senior Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion and PO1 Alex Bacani. Chief Insp. Eduardo Mara and SPO4 Edwin Galan were dropped from the case.

Tagaan, who took over the case after a five-member panel from the Provincial Prosecutor's Office inhibited, said that only Iglesia, Lerion and Bacani conspired to kill Archival. Given weight by Tagaan were the cases filed by Archival on behalf of his clients against Iglesia, Lerion and Bacani and the testimonies of witnesses.


Also given weight were the recovery of the vehicles used in the ambush from HPG 7's impounding area and the empty shells from an armalite rifle found inside the red Toyota Vios. These matched with the firearms of HPG officers.

There also the CCTV footage taken by a nearby resort in barangay Coro, Dalaguete where the ambush happened and another footage taken in Dalaguete town. These showed a red Toyota Vios casing the SUV of the slain lawyer. Archival and his group were on their way back to Cebu City from Dumagauete City after attending a court hearing on Feb. 18.

Would circumstantial evidence stand in court considering that no witness could pinpoint as to who really carried out the operation. What I mean is that there are no direct testimonies that identified the gunmen.

I don't know if Cortes, the lone survivor, had identified their attackers considering that he ducked inside the vehicle and played dead.

According to Wikipedia, “circumstantial evidence is evidence that relies on an inference to connect it to conclusion of fact--like finger print at the scene of a crime. By contrast, direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly.

“Circumstantial evidence usually accumulates into a collection so that the piece of circumstantial evidence becomes corroborating evidence. Together, they may more strongly support one particular inference over another. An explanation involving circumstantial evidence becomes more valid as proof of a fact when the alternative explanation have been ruled out. Circumstantial evidence allows a trier of fact to infer that a fact exists.

Investigating a criminal case at the investigators’ level, resolving it at the prosecutor's level, filing it with the court and trying the case are different things.

Remember that this is a criminal offense and in order for the aggrieved party to obtain justice the respondents must be convicted beyond reasonable doubt.

Is this enough to convict the accused? That remains to be seen. It would also largely depend on how the public and private prosecutors will handle the case during a full-blown trial.

The families of the victims should not rejoice yet following the filing of charges against the accused. I am afraid they would end up frustrated with our justice system.

If this is a baseball game, the player is still in the first base and we don't know what will happen to the player in the second, third and home bases before a score is counted.

The lawyer of the accused can file a motion for reconsideration or elevate the matter with the Department of Justice for possible review. That would further delay the filing of the case and issuance of warrants of arrest. But at least, for now, the wheels of our justice system are moving for our friend Noel.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 31, 2014.


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