Jul 21, 2021 @ 19:02
Court junks murder case versus Anti-Terror Act petitioner threatened by Risa’s brother-in-law
A Davao del Norte court has formally dismissed the murder charge against an indigenous people’s rights defender who is challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and is facing a shoot-to-kill order issued by the brother-in-law of Senator Risa Hontiveros.
In a 2-page order on Criminal Case No. 26316, Tagum City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 Judge Sharon Rose Saracin granted the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor’s prayer for the dismissal of the charge it earlier filed against Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) chairperson Windel Bolinget.
The court cited “lack of probable cause” in absolving Bolinget and five other individuals, and found the reinvestigation report of the prosecution to be “proper and in order.”
Only during the reinvestigation did the prosecution belatedly consider the alibis that ruled out the presence of Bolinget and his coaccused at the scene of the March 21, 2018 killing of Lumad activist Garito Tiklonay Malibato in Kapalong municipality.
Also exonerated were Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Popular Struggles Commission director Lutgardo Jurcales, Jr., Karapatan Cagayan Valley secretary-general Jackie Valencia, Makabayan Cagayan Valley regional coordinator Agnes Mesina, Danggayan ti Mannalon Cagayan Valley leader Reynaldo Garneng, and Davao City-based construction business owner Albert Mandin.
Still subject of an alias warrant of arrest and facing charges were Reynard Catarata, Edward Flores, Simon Naogsan, Sergio Lumonday, and Vilma Dalangin.
The May 24 report, signed by Prosecution Attorney James Noel Morente and approved by Provincial Prosecutor Norman Solis, cited the fact that the six defendants were too far from the scene of the crime to have been involved in it—all, except Mandin, were in Luzon that day.
Bolinget was busy preparing for a press conference and the annual Cordillera Day celebration in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Jurcales was at the office of Bayan in Quezon City on March 21, 2018, and attended a forum in the University of the Philippines Diliman the next day, before boarding a flight to Consolacion, Cebu on March 23, 2018 to attend his niece’s graduation ceremony.
Valencia, Mesina and Garneng were working at home in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, Santiago City, and Alicia, Isabela, respectively.
Lastly, Mandin was having a meeting with his brother and their office secretary on the afternoon of March 21, 2018 in Davao City, before going to a dinner meeting with his wife and an engineer that evening, and attending to certain transactions and then the birthday celebration of his brother the day after.
They all presented witness affidavits and pictures to corroborate the alibis.
Bolinget is one of the petitioners in G.R. No. 252904, the 24th legal challenge to the constitutionality of the ATA which was also brought by Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) international solidarity officer Beverly Longid and Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc.
In January, Philippine National Police (PNP) Cordillera police chief R’win Pagkalinawan, husband of CNN Philippines chief correspondent Pia Hontiveros, issued a shoot-to-kill order against Bolinget following the Tagum City RTC’s issuance of an arrest warrant. This prompted Bolinget to seek the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The lawyers of the petitioners in February called the attention of the Supreme Court (SC) to the arrest of Bolinget and the danger to his life. #