Freeman Region

Atty. Mia murder case witnesses recant earlier statement

Ric V. Obedencio - The Freeman

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines — A new twist on the controversial case of the killing of lawyer Mia Mascariñas Green surfaced when the supposed witnesses of the defense disavowed what they earlier stated in their affidavit, which they alleged was “ready-made” by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Witnesses Teofanes Bautista Sumalinog and Joel Silabay Monreal, both working as security guards of the Dagohoy Security Agency and assigned at the Alona Embrace Resort in Panglao town of Bohol, accused the NBI of forcing them to sign an affidavit against their will. Because of fear they signed the sworn statement, they alleged.

Sumalinog said in the Boholano dialect that “during the investigation, Joel and I were left being interrogated by the NBI agents.” He then claimed that “they were threatened (by the agents) who also struck my back and snapped a wire on my hand to force me to sign the affidavit prepared by them.”

Sumalinog insisted he did not understand the contents of the “prepared” affidavit, and was not given a copy that was verified by a prosecutor. He said that whatever its contents did not come from him, but he just signed it “out of fear.”

He later got a copy of the affidavit from his agency chief John Sebusa and, after reading the contents, he cited parts 4 and 5 of the document as allegedly not true, specifically on the statement that “there was a sort of a banquet tendered on February 14, the day before Atty. Mia was gunned down.”

The statement in the affidavit said that the said “despedida” (banquet) was concocted by Lloyd Gonzaga, the alleged brain of the lawyer’s murder, for he was leaving for Davao. “This story is not true because there was no banquet during that time, and I did not know that sir Lloyd Gonzaga was leaving for Davao,” claimed Sumalinog.

Sumalinog told The Freeman he decided to withdraw the sworn statement he earlier signed, and then executed an affidavit of retraction verified last March 20 by Assistant Prosecutor Liezl Visaya Tuyogon. Sumalinog and Monreal were assisted by lawyers Ted Lagang, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bohol president, and Jun Amora.

The IBP-Bohol chapter, for its part, issued a statement earlier requesting the NBI to conduct an investigation on the killing of Mascariñas-Green. The female lawyer was shot dead in front of her children inside the van they were riding at the time of the ambush along sitio Lanao at Barangay Dao in Tagbilaran City last February 15.

When sought to comment on the retraction, Archie Albao of the NBI-Bohol sent a text message to The Freeman asking the latter to “personally interview d investigator on case tomorrow as well as read the affidavits of d guards.”

The murder suspects, Gonzaga and one Romarico Templado Benigi-an, eluded arrest when a combined law enforcers of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) swooped down on the resort, to serve a search warrant (VEJ-2017-02) issued by Vice Executive Judge Jennifer Chavez Marcos of the Regional Trial Court-Branch 2 in Bohol.

The polie raiding team failed to arrest the suspects but they seized from the resort-hotel the following: A .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver (without serial number), two .38-caliber live bullets, a hand grenade, and a sealed transparent sachet containing suspected shabu.

Police said the serving of the warrant was “conducted in an orderly manner” in the presence of Barangay Tawala (Panglao) officials—Kagawads Dionisio Sumili and Roque Milalus—media representative Willy Maestrado, and Rosal Estomo, an employee of the Alona Embrace Hotel.

The SITG consisted of operatives of the Tagbilaran City Police Station, Bohol Crime Investigation Detection Group, Bohol Provincial Intelligence Bureau, Bohol Special Weapons and Tactics, Panglao Police Station, and Bohol Tourist Police Unit headed by Superintendent Nicomedes Paña Olaivar, Tagbilaran Police chief.


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