Cops looking into Archival’s cases
Ria Mae Y. Booc, Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - February 21, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Special Investigation Task Group Archival is looking at a high-profile case Atty. Noel Archival handled as possible lead in its investigation in Tuesday’s ambush that killed the lawyer and two of his companions.

One companion survived and is now heavily guarded by the police, as he could help shed light on the identities of the gunmen.

Supt. Renato Malazarte, task force spokesperson, said they now have leads but still validating the information. He said that as of the moment, he could not disclose what they have to the media so as not to jeopardize their follow-up operations.

Archival has handled high-profile cases, including that of Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association leader Ruben Ecleo Jr., who is currently on the run with a bounty on his head.

Archival had just come from Dumaguete City representing alleged pawnshop robbery mastermind Jesuslou Elcarte Alegria, who is facing a robbery-in-band case, last Tuesday when ambushed in Barangay Coro, Dalaguete, Cebu.

Alegria, 42, of Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur, was arrested after he and several other accomplices allegedly robbed Agencia Belen Pawnshop in downtown Dumaguete and escaped with around P5 million in jewelry last year. The stolen items were later recovered but Alegria’s companions remain at large.

Dumaguete City Police Chief James Goforth also said Archival had been representing big-time drug pusher Mark Lorenz Solon, who was arrested in the city last December during a buy-bust operation, where Solon and a companion allegedly yielded some 30 grams of shabu.

Goforth said that for unknown reasons, Solon, who is in their watchlist of drug personalities, reportedly terminated Archival’s services.

In the police’s ongoing investigation, Malazarte said three vehicles were seen in closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footages they secured prior to the ambush.

“Basta dunay pick up nga ni-overtake sa SUV ni Archival unya nay laing pick up nga misulpot sa wala pa rakraki (There was a pick-up truck that overtook Archival’s SUV while another one showed up before the gunmen began firing,” he said.

Malazarte, though, declined to disclose where and what time the footage was captured.

Paulo Cortes, who was wounded but survived the attack, told the task group that he was able to immediately duck when he heard the bursts of gunfire.

Recalling the events prior to the attack, he said that he noticed someone was always watching them even in Dumaguete City, where they attended a hearing on Alegria’s case.

The said person is now the subject of a facial composite the police are coming up with.

Cortes, who is currently recuperating in the hospital, is heavily guarded.  The police also assured possible witnesses that they, too, would be provided with security if they would come out and help in the investigation.

Malazarte said that based on what they gathered so far, there is a big possibility that the gunmen had contacts in Dumaguete City and in Dalaguete town.

 â€œKung gusto pa lang unta sila sa Santander pa lang daan ila nang tirahan, nagsakay ra gud ni og sikad si attorney (Had they been tailing him, they could have struck while Archival was still in Santander town, as he even rode a trisikad there),” Malazarte said.

According to the police, the vehicles the gunmen used are still within Cebu province but that they do not know yet the whereabouts of the killer.

Archival and his companions were onboard his Ford Escape (YGE 240) on their way back to Cebu City last Tuesday when a red Toyota Hi-Lux overtook their vehicle while they were traveling along the highway in Barangay Coro, Dalaguete.

Cortes had told the police that another Toyota Hi-Lux, this time colored black, also positioned behind their vehicle.  He said the red vehicle would not let them overtake; then the black vehicle accelerated and drove alongside them.

It was then that unidentified men inside the black vehicle fired at Archival’s SUV repeatedly, hitting all four occupants, killing the lawyer and two others.

The police said the SUV had 31 bullet holes and that they also recovered two M16 bullet slugs from the crime scene.

Meanwhile, Talamban, Cebu Barangay Councilor Nelson Archival, the slain lawyer’s younger brother, said they believe Cortes can help a lot in solving the case.

Nelson is open to the idea of having the National Bureau of Investigation look into the incident, but he believed the Philippine National Police is capable enough to handle the investigation.

Nelson believed that his brother’s death was work-related.

“In his private life, Atty. Archival had no enemy. In fact, he is much known in Talamban where he resides,” he said.

Nelson said Archival was close to his six children that the lawyer always found time to attend to their every activity.

Archival’s youngest child, Nelson said, even kept on asking why his tatay’s eyes remained close and why he (Archival) was not talking anymore.

Told that their father was murdered, the young child asked who killed their father—a question Nelson said they could not answer.

“Kaning mga bataa wala gyud ni sila magtuo nga dili na nila makit-an ang ilang tatay. Gani gusto nila nga inig-uli nila sa ilang balay naa gihapon ilang tatay bahala’g ing-ana na (That they would no longer see their father again has not yet sunk in with the children. They said they still like to have their father with them every time they go home even if he is already like this),” Nelson said.

 Archival will be laid to rest at Angelicum Garden of Angels Memorial Park in Canduman, Mandaue City on Feb. 28.

Either tomorrow or Sunday, Archival’s wake would be transferred from Saint Peter Memorial Chapel in New Imus Road to the lawyer’s house in Talamban.—/RHM  (FREEMAN)


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