Slain Baler judge handled drug, land cases
(The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Aurora Judge Jude Erwin Alaba could have been killed because of his work.

Police investigators are looking at the cases that Alaba had handled as he had no known enemies, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said in a text message yesterday after personally checking on the police investigation.

“Initial review of cases shows that the late judge was handling sensitive drug cases and some land disputes,” Marquez said.

Police are talking with two male witnesses, including the Baler Regional Trial Court’s security guard, to help establish the identity of Alaba’s killer.

Security guard Nestor Natividad and another witness had an “eyeball-to-eyeball” encounter with the gunman, according to Aurora police director Sr. Supt. Danny Florentino.

Natividad was motioning Alaba to park his vehicle in the compound when the gunman appeared and repeatedly fired at the vehicle with a caliber .45 pistol.

The other witness told police that the killer tried to fire another shot at Alaba after firing three shots, but his gun misfired, Florentino said.

“The other witness we have could clearly identify the gunman if he sees him because they have seen each other eye to eye,” he said.

A 17-man Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) comprised of investigators from the Aurora police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Baler police and Provincial crime laboratory will review footage of the closed circuit television cameras along the road taken by Alaba’s vehicle en route to court, he added.

Police are also reviewing the recent decisions of Alaba, including convictions that might have angered some people, Florentino said. “Judge Alaba has a no-nonsense reputation of being swift in rendering decisions,” he said. “He resolves cases with dispatch, although he is also known to be kind.”

Marquez instructed the court staff of Alaba to make an inventory of the cases and case incidents that could have triggered his murder.

“Police investigators have already pinpointed a suspect based on the eyewitness accounts,” he said.

Marquez went to Baler upon instruction of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

He condoled with the heirs of Alaba and visited the widow in the hospital, where she was recovering from a gunshot wound in the arm.

Marquez also met with the Aurora police director, Baler police chief, Aurora provincial prosecutor and some officials of the National Bureau of Investigation.

He asked them to exert all efforts to arrest the gunman and the mastermind.

“Some leads are being followed by the police based on eyewitness accounts,” he said.

The murder of Alaba was part of the risks of the job of a judge, according to Baler Vice Mayor Karen Angara-Ularan.

“It was shocking,” she said. “Of course, we all know that as a court judge, he has been rendering decisions that affect the lives of people.”

Baler police cannot be blamed because they have been doing their job of keeping the peace, although they do not have enough manpower to cover all bases in crime prevention, Ularan said.

“Let not this single incident define the hard work being put in by the police to make sure peace and order reigns in our community. The police just cannot keep watch over all the population,” she said. – Edu Punay, Manny Galvez, Christina Mendez

ACIRC ALABA AURORA AURORA JUDGE JUDE ERWIN ALABA BALER BALER REGIONAL TRIAL COURT BALER VICE MAYOR KAREN ANGARA-ULARAN CHIEF JUSTICE MA CHRISTINA MENDEZ COURT ADMINISTRATOR JOSE MIDAS MARQUEZ CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION GROUP MARQUEZ POLICE
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