Local News: On Arles Murder, ‘Alvarez’ Statements Unfair, Shameful?’
The spokesperson of the family of slain Kabankalan Judge Henry Arles yesterday lambasted Ilog Mayor John Paul Alvarez and his father, Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., for issuing malicious statements in defense of his mayor-son.
"Their statements are very unfair, grossly shameful and malicious," lawyer Frank Britanico told the Daily Bulletin yesterday.
In media interviews Sunday, Mayor Alvarez denied he was the mastermind of, nor did he have any participation to, the murder of Arles last April 24.
Arles, presiding judge of Kabankalan Regional Trial Court Branch 61, succumbed to three bullet wounds. He was shot with a .45-caliber pistol by men who fled onboard a tricycle in Ilog town.
The mayor said the filing of charges against him was politically motivated, a statement also supported by Vice Governor Alvarez.
The older Alvarez claimed that the case against his son is politically motivated because the judge’s son, Philip Arles, lost to his daughter Mercedes Alvarez in the 6th District congressional race in 2010.
But Britanico countered, "Are they implying that the children of Judge Arles, two of whom are lawyers, are so petty that they would accuse Mayor Alvarez in the murder of their father just to get back at them for losing in politics?"
"They lost a father. The statement of the Alvarez family is very unfair, malicious, grossly shameful and malicious," Britanico, who was also the brother-in-law of Judge Arles, said.
Last Friday, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed murder charges against Mayor Alvarez and nine others before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila in connection with the murder of Arles.
NBI Bacolod head Ferdinand Lavin said the murder complaint was filed before DOJ Prosecutor General Claro Arellano by Arles’ sons Albert, a lawyer and Philip. Arles’ daughter Ria is also a lawyer.
Mayor Alvarez criticized the NBI for dragging his name to the case without getting his side. "Your conscience will bother you for dragging my name in the case. You know that I am innocent," he said in media interviews, referring to the NBI officers.
Britanico said the mayor’s statement is "misleading." For one, it is not part of due process in an investigation for the NBI to notify a person that he is being investigated, he said.
"Your right to be informed only starts at the time when you are arrested, during which you can invoke your right to be silent, and demand the assistance of a legal counsel," Britanico explained.
The NBI, in fact, observed due process "by not arresting Mayor Alvarez" and instead filed the case before the DOJ, which shall determine probable cause and file the case in court, he said.
While the case is in the DOJ, a preliminary investigation will be conducted to protect the human rights of Mayor Alvarez, he stressed.
Moreover, Mayor Alvarez stressed he has not gone into hiding, contrary to rumors that he has fled the province. He said he still regularly reports to the municipal hall and he continues to perform his duties and functions as mayor of Ilog.
The mayor added that the haste with which the case was pursued may have something to do with the P1.2-million cash reward for the arrest of the suspects.
Britanico laughed off the mayor’s remarks, saying that "all law enforcement agencies are disqualified from receiving reward money" from the arrest of suspects.
Meanwhile, also charged in Arles’ killing are Jessie Daguia, Alejandro Capunong, Eddie Fortunado, Marvin Salve, Gerald Tabujara, Emmanuel Medez, a Jane Doe, a John Doe and another suspect still to be identified in the course of the investigation, Britanico earlier said.
Daguia, Fortunado and Capunong, who are all members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), are in the custody of the NBI central office in Manila, Lavin said.
Medez, who was allegedly a personal aide of Mayor Alvarez and RPA-ABB members Salve and Tabujara and three unidentified suspects are at-large, he said.
In the complaint, Albert said, "The killing of my father was well planned and was performed by hired killers."
Albert alleged that his father was killed because Mayor Alvarez suspected that he and his father were responsible for helping the late Ilog councilor Antonio Gequillana in following up the case against the mayor before the Office of the Ombudsman "which resulted in the dismissal from office of his co-respondents for (violation of the) Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices before the Sandiganbayan."
Alvarez and seven other Ilog officials were charged with graft for unlawfully repairing and replacing the motor engine of a Mitsubishi Pajero.
Albert claimed that the mayor hired the RPA-ABB members to kill his father. Fortunado allegedly received P75,000 from Medez for the task, but he surrendered P39,000 to the NBI after he was arrested in a Bacolod bus terminal on June 23 for carrying an unlicensed firearm.
Britanico said the cases against Alvarez before the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan were both filed by Gequillana, 40, who was gunned down in front of a hotel in Bacolod in July 2011.
The Arles family alleged in their complaint that it was Mayor Alvarez who also ordered Gequillana’s killing.*(DBDangcalan)