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Freeman Region

Town mayor sued

Danny B. Dangcalan - The Freeman

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — The Ombudsman has approved the filing of four murder charges and one frustrated murder charge against outgoing Escalante town Mayor Melecio Yap Jr., who was elected congressman of the 1st district of Negros Occidental in the recent elections.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales also approved the filing of murder charges against 14 other suspects, two of whom are also facing frustrated murder charge.

The respondents were charged for the alleged extra-judicial killings of the supporters of former Escalante Mayor Santiago Barcelona Jr., Yap’s political opponent, between 2007 and 2013.

The 20-page consolidated resolution—penned by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Laurrie Layne Cristobal last March 14, and approved by Morales last May 18—stated that six murders and three frustrated murders were committed, and that the complainants have insisted that Yap was the moving force behind the crimes, or the principal by inducement.

The Ombudsman also indicted Bernardino Patigas, Richard Patpat, Gregory Tuayon, Joel  Villarin, Joey Llorente, JR Buhat, Jay Vargas, Hernando Llorente,  Lorenzo Perolino, Rolando Llamata, Eleazar Navas, and three others with aliases Bob Soler, Renan, and Bam-bam.

The Ombudsman dismissed charges against Superintendent Santiago Rapiz, Senior Police Officer 1 Angel Sinadjan, and Yap’s security officer Arthur Tupas for failure of the complainants to specifically allege their participation in the crimes.

However, Yap said he is sure the charges will be dismissed because his accusers have no prima facie evidence against him. He said the charges against him were politically motivated  and “not surprising” at all, as those were targeted against him in the elections.

“My conscience is clear and I have nothing to be afraid of,” Yap said, adding that he does not know personally or is even connected to the persons accusing him. “Their allegations are very weak to indict me,” he added. —(FREEMAN)

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