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Ombudsman to file murder raps on Gapan mayor

MANILA, Philippines -- Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez ordered today the filing of murder charges against Gapan City, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ernesto Natividad and 23 others before the Sandiganbayan for the killing of two persons three years ago.

Aside from the local chief executive, the Office of the Ombudsman also ordered the filing of charges against Dennis Matias, Lorenzo Rueda, Jr., Crisanto Mateo, Dalia Cruz, Romeo Natividad, Ricardo Peralta, Randy Puno, Jovert Dumlao and 15 John Does.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Cristina Pascual for the killing of her sons Ericson and Ebertson Pascual at the Gapan Coliseum and Cockpit Arena in Gapan City in 2006.

During investigation, one of the witnesses, Virgilio Malgapo, revealed that “it was the respondent Mayor Natividad who masterminded the killing because of politics”.

Malgapo used to work in the cockpit where the killings took place. He said the cockpit is owned by the victims’ family.

He narrated that on March 10, 2006, he was contacted by Peralta, his wife’s cousin, who told him about the plan and his role to open the big gate of the cockpit to allow the assailants to enter the premises without passing through security.

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Subsequently, he revealed how they were all brought to the house of Mayor Natividad, who gave him P20,000 as down payment for the agreed  price of P100,000.

Malgapo recounted that “on the agreed date, he opened the big gate and let the persons led by respondent Peralta enter the cockpit premises.”

After letting them in, Malgapo claimed that he failed to notice where they positioned themselves but eventually witnessed the killing while also being shot in the head.

Surviving the bullet wound, he stated that after his release from the hospital, he decided to hide and stay with his brother in Bulacan out of fear for his life. He later went straight to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to reveal what he knew.

Records show that Natividad denied the allegations against him but the Ombudsman said his defense “takes the nature of alibi which is declared as the weakest defense.”

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