Local News: ‘Arles Slay Suspects Not Allowed to Retract Statements’
The three suspects in the murder of Kabankalan Judge Henry Arles, who are now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila, are not legally allowed to retract their sworn statements.
Lawyer Frank Britanico, spokesperson of the Arles family, issued this statement yesterday over fears that suspect Eddie Fortunado might retract his statement during a court hearing today.
Fortunado is expected to be brought by the NBI to a court hearing at 2:30 p.m. today at the Regional Trial Court Branch 42 in Bacolod.
Before they were brought to NBI Manila, Fortunado, along with suspects Jessie Daguia and Vincent Capunong issued a sworn statement at the NBI Bacolod, recounting their version of the crime, NBI Bacolod head Ferdinand Lavin earlier said.
Britanico stressed that a doctrine made by the Supreme Court on similar cases will prevent Fortunado to retract his sworn statements.
It is not in the provisions of the granting of Writ of Amparo to retract the sworn statements, he said, adding that retraction should be done in a different forum.
"Besides, in this particular case, the evidence is conclusive and it can stand on its own," Britanico said.
Britanico said as far as he knows, Fortunado has not issued a letter of retraction. It could be against his interest, he said.
The statements made by Fortunado were fully recorded and documented, he said.
Britanico also advised Fortunado and his counsel to "keep their options open."
He explained that Fortunado can turn into a "state witness."
Last week, Regional Trial Court Branch 42 Judge Fernando Elumba ordered the NBI and its legal counsel to bring Fortunado to a hearing today.
"Be sure to bring the ‘living body of the subject’ on the scheduled hearing or you will be cited for contempt," Elumba had told lawyer Ormil Go of the Office of the Solicitor General.
The rescheduled hearing today was ordered by Elumba after the NBI failed to bring Fortunado at a summary hearing last Thursday.
When asked if they will bring Fortunado to a court hearing today, Lavin said, "We cannot defy the order of the court."
Lavin added there is no reason for the NBI not to comply with the order of the court, but they will take the matter up with the higher management of the NBI.
Tessa Fortunado, mother of Eddie, has filed a petition for Writ of Amparo against NBI director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas, Lavin, and NBI agents Syrus Aluzan and Modesto Orestes Cajita.
Elumba granted the petition on August 9, and ordered the NBI to "produce the living body of Fortunado and to explain why he is being restrained of his liberty and as well as why torture is being inflicted on his person, and to produce all documents that may have been signed by Fortunado during his confinement under the custody of NBI."
Lavin maintained that the three suspects, who are facing murder charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the killing of Arles lat April 24, have sought protective custody with the NBI because they fear for their lives.
The Arles family has charged the three suspects, along with Ilog Mayor John Paul Alvarez, whom they tagged as the alleged mastermind of the crime, as well as Marvin Salve, Gerard Tabujara, Emmanuel Medez, and three other unidentified suspects, before the DOJ for the murder of the judge.* DBDangcalan