Cebu News

Lawyer’s murder: Police eyeing personal angle

Flor Z. Perolina - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Police are inclined to believe personal motives were behind the ambush  that killed lawyer Amelie Ocañada-Alegre and wounded lawyer Briccio Boholst and their staff Antonio Pino Thursday night in Barangay Looc, Mandaue City.

Mandaue City Police Office Director Mariano Natu-el said the strongest angle so far is personal motives because according to Alegre’s associate, Dwight Remedio, their office does not handle heinous crimes or drug cases, only cases on real property.

Based on information police gathered, Alegre was allegedly threatened by her estranged husband, Ryan, according to her mother Marietta Ocañada.

Marietta said Alegre and her husband separated after four years of marriage over her husband’s alleged affair and their annulment case is pending in court. Mariette added her daughter once confided to her that she received a threat from her husband.

In 2011 there was also an incident where the alleged lover of Ryan hit Alegre with her car. Alegre had to get steel implants for her leg as a result of the injury, she filed a murder case against the alleged lover but the alleged lover committed suicide before the case could proceed.

Natu-el also said another lead they are looking into is a disgruntled employee of the law firm Alegre works for. The employee was allegedly dismissed earlier this year.

Natu-el said a relationship angle is unlikely because Alegre’s associates said she was not seeing anyone.

Police said it was a common practice in their law firm to car pool as they could also discuss case strategies during the ride home. Alegre had her own driver but during the ambush she was driving the car as the driver was instructed to serve a demand letter in the City of Naga.

Natu-el said that they will be inviting the victim’s husband and the dismissed employee for questioning.

Ambushed by ‘Pros’

Police said two men wearing full-face helmets and riding a motorcycle tailed Alegre’s gray BMW with license plate numbers ABM 5635 from their law firm in Barangay Tipolo up to Barangay Looc where Boholst lived.

Upon reaching Catalino Street near Boholst’s house, the passenger of the motorcycle shot Alegre at close range with a 9mm cal. pistol, hitting her in the jaw, left arm and chest, killing her instantly. Pino, who was sitting beside her in the front passenger seat, was shot in the abdomen, while Boholst, seated in the back, was shot in the right thigh.

Alegre’s car was still accelerating and came to a stop around 50 meters away from where they were attacked; Boholst and Pino then scrambled out of the car and sought refuge in a neighbor’s house.

Despite their injuries Boholst and Pino are now in safe condition.

Natu-el said the assailants appear to be professionals because of the accuracy of their shots. Seven 9mm shells were recovered at the crime scene and seven bullet holes were found in the driver’s side.

Senior Superintendent Rey Lyndon Lawas, chief, Regional Directorial Staff, said Police Regional Office-7 director Chief Superintendent Prudencio Tom Bañas directed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 7 to help MCPO in the investigation.

Cheerful and Passionate

‘Cheerful and passionate’ was how family and friends of Alegre described her. Despite this they said Alegre took her cases very seriously. They also described her as a person who was not afraid to tell you that you were wrong.

One her clients said before the ambush, Alegre called her around 5:30 p.m. Thursday and asked her to meet her the following morning for an important meeting. On 8 p.m. that same day she was shocked by the news that she received.

“Sa tanang nadawat nako na text na patay na si Atty. Alegre, I was not yet convinced and remained hopeful. Gi-textan pa gani nako siya og si Atty. Brics but it was only Atty. Brics who responded. I had to go to the morgue to convince myself that she is already dead,” she said.

‘She is more than a lawyer to me. She was a hero … I can’t believe that someone who is so full of life could be lifeless in an instant. Mura g’yud siya’g kandila nga gikalit lang og tayhop,” she added.

She finished with saying the cheerfulness of “Am-am” will always have a place in her heart and her smile will always be painted on her mind.

IBP condemns slay

“We are very saddened. No one has the right to take the life of another. It is a tragic irony that those who choose to uphold the rule of law as a profession are the victims of lawlessness and violence,” IBP-Cebu Province Chapter President Gonzalo Malig-on Jr. said.

February last year, lawyer Noel Archival, his driver Alejandro Jayme, and bodyguard Candido Miñoza were were killed in an ambush in Barangay Coro, Dalaguete while heading to Cebu City from a hearing in Dumaguete City. Only Archival’s assistant, Paolo Cortes, survived.

In January 2013, lawyer Jubian Achas and his client, Dr. Rene Rafols were shot dead inside the courtroom of the Cebu Palace of Justice by Canadian national John Pope who also shot himself dead. Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Ma. Theresa Casiño was injured.

Malig-on said he last met Alegre in court one or two months ago while he last saw Boholst last month. Malig-on described Alegre as a bubbly, amiable and reasonable lawyer, adding that she had a bright future.

“Nagkaatbang mi og kaso last year pero na-settle ra. Dali ra nimo siya maistorya. Sayang kay bata pa siya,” he said.

Alegre finished Accountancy at the University of San Carlos and was a graduate of the University of Cebu Law School.

Boholst served as IBP Cebu City Chapter President in 2007 and as Mandaue City administrator under Mayor Jonas Cortes from 2007 to 2010.

Malig-on added an emergency meeting among IBP-Cebu members was held yesterday to determine what steps to take after the incident. — Bryner L. Diaz, Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento, Janic Gee Otom, USJ-R intern/BRP



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