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PNP confident to win libel suit vs Medel

- Christina Mendez () - December 14, 2001 - 12:00am
An official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) expressed confidence yesterday that they will win the libel case filed against Philip Medel Jr., the man initially tagged by the police as the killer of the late actress Nida Blanca.

"We know that he was lying to his teeth and we are hoping that the court would believe us that Medel was indeed trying to mislead the authorities," said a top CIDG official, who asked not to named.

This developed as a senior police official of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) stood pat on the unit’s stand that the missing Mike Martinez, another suspect, is not in their custody.

Senior Superintendent Jesus Versoza reiterated that Martinez is not in the custody of the CIDG, the unit that first conducted the investigation of the Nov. 7 slay of the actress in San Juan.

"We do not have him so how can we produce in court a person who has never been in custody?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Leonardo Espina, former spokesperson of the PNP-Task Force Marana, filed a P10-million libel suit with the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday.

The accusations stemmed from Medel’s claims Espina punched him hard in the stomach after he was joined by Martinez at the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame, which officials denied vehemently. Martinez has been missing since Nov. 19, several hours after Medel was presented to the media as the main suspect in the Blanca killing.

In his five-page sworn affidavit, Espina belied Medel’s claims over a television interview with GMA 7’s Jessica Soho that he manhandled Martinez and that the PNP-CIDG have him in their custody.

Espina claimed that he was not in Camp Crame on the day Medel claimed that he saw Martinez being punched. He said he was with his wife having dinner in one of the restaurants in Quezon City.

The police official also presented the receipt of the restaurant where they dined on Nov. 19 to prove that he was not inside Camp Crame.

Espina also claimed that they went home to Antipolo City at around 10:45 p.m. He said his entry was docketed at their subdivision’s logbook. He added that he reported for work in Camp Crame the following morning, Nov. 20.

"It is therefore physically improbable for the complainant to be present both in Antipolo and Camp Crame at the same time when the alleged manhandling took place between 12:30 and 1 a.m. of Nov. 20," the officer stressed.

Espina also denied that Martinez was taken into custody by the PNP Task Force Marsha.

"Mike Martinez was never taken into police custody because before the police could reach him, he had already left his residence and his whereabouts could not be ascertained up to the present by the authorities," he added.

Aside from Medel, relatives of Martinez also believed that the latter was taken into custody by the police since he was reportedly missing last month. The Martinez’s family filed a petition for habeas corpus with the Quezon City court, which was questioned by the CIDG in the Court of Appeals.

ANTIPOLO AND CAMP CRAME ANTIPOLO CITY CAMP CRAME COURT OF APPEALS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION GROUP ESPINA MARTINEZ MEDEL MIKE MARTINEZ QUEZON CITY
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