“We could not in any way be the gunmen of Atty. Green, much less participants in the crime, for both of us were not even in the scene.”
This was the gist of the much-awaited counter-affidavits of the prime suspects in the killing of Atty. Manuelita “Mia” Mascarinas-Green received by the Office of the City Prosecutor of the City of Tagbilaran days after the March 20, 2017 deadline set by the panel of city prosecutors.
Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga and Romarico Benegi-an boldly claimed that they were nowhere at the scene of the crime at around 4:50 in the afternoon of February 15, 2017 at the corner of Zamora and JA Clarin Sts., Barangay San Isidro, Tagbilaran City.
The two suspects submitted a 19-page joint counter-affidavit categorically denying their involvement in the murder of Atty. Mia and the attempted murders of her three children and their nanny.
However, Gonzaga and Benegi-an filed a complaint for perjury against Stuart James Green, Atty. Mia’s husband, two witnesses and Gonzaga’s mother-in-law, Conrada Gubalani Otero Blomqvist for offering false testimony in evidence.
Heaping the blame on Blomqvist, his mother-in-law, for the predicament they were in, Gonzaga swore that he was at his parent’s house at Ladislawa Garden Village in Barangay Buhangin, Davao City when the four assailants made their hit against the Greens and their nanny.
Benegi-an also asserted that he was in Alona Embrace Hotel located in Purok 6, Barangay Tawala, Panglao at the time of the killing.
Several eyewitnesses to the ambush slaying including the nanny identified Gonzaga, Benegian and two John Does as the perpetrators based on mugshots from the police files, according to police investigators.
But the suspects downplayed the testimonies of two of the witnesses expressing skepticism over the “considerable length of time – nine days for Ms. Galupo and four days for Mr. Taguinca” to execute their statements on the killing of Atty. Mia.
According to the respondents, the interval of several days is sufficient time for Blomqvist to “introduce concoctions and falsehood on the identity of the assailants” while repeatedly announcing to media reporters in press conferences that they murdered Atty. Green.”
CCTV MORE RELIABLE
Gonzaga and Benegi-an anchored their declarations of innocence on closed circuit television (CCTV) footages which they alleged are “conclusive and beyond debate” of their whereabouts at the time and date of the murder of Atty. Mia.
CCTV footages showing the arrival of the Gonzaga couple at their parent’s residential house at No. 23 Lotus corner Daffodil Sts., Ladislawa Garden Village, Buhangin, Davao City on February 15, 2017 at 11:54 a.m. which were allegedly captured by several cameras installed within the residential premises.
Also, the presence of Benegi-an at the Alona Embrace Hotel in Panglao at the time of the slaying of Atty. Mia was allegedly recorded by CCTV cameras positioned in the hotel area.
In the counter-affidavit, Gonzaga made known that on February 14, 2017, the day before the murder of Atty. Mia, together with his wife, Cresta Monica, the daughter of Blomqvist, left Alona Embrace Hotel onboard their white Toyota Fortuner for Jagna on their way to Cagayan de Oro City.
The Gonzagas loaded their vehicle on board a Lite Shipping vessel and departed Jagna port at 10 p.m. arriving Cagayan de Oro City at 5 a.m. on February 15, 2017 and traveled by land to Davao City via the Bukidnon-Davao Highway.
According to a separate affidavit executed by the wife of Gonzaga, they arrived at Davao City at 11:54 a.m. and proceeded to her husband’s parents house at No. 23 Lotus corner Daffodil Sts., Ladislawa Garden Village, Buhangin, Davao city.
In the evening of the same day, they heard the news of Atty. Mia’s death from several gunmen and were shocked that her husband and Benegi-an were accused as the triggermen.
In support of their allegations, the Gonzagas included a Lite Shipping official receipt for the transport of the Toyota Fortuner together with Lloyd’s passage ticket, terminal ticket, gasoline receipt at Cagayan de Oro gas station dated February 15, 2017 and receipt for the use of the SM Advantage Card on the same date.
On the part of Benegi-an, two witnesses, including CCTV footages, Rosal Estomo, a resident of Panglao and Rhealie Dagocdocan, also a resident of Panglao and Davao City executed a joint affidavit proving that they “positively saw Benegi-an in the smoking area of Alona Embrace Hotel in the afternoon of February 15, 2017 “at about 4 p.m. until about 6:30 to 7 p.m.”
They also slammed Blomqvist “arsenic effect” in the investigation of the case by the police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The police, according to the joint affidavit of Gonzaga and Benegi-an “seemingly failed” to check the airport and seaports for vital information and conduct a manhunt” because of Blomqvist interference that led to their being tagged as the assailants.
With the murder suspects still scot-free, police declared the murder of Atty. Mia a “cleared case” pending the resolution of the preliminary investigation of the murder complaint and the eventual issuance of an arrest warrant, if probable cause exist.
Police consider a case cleared when at least one of the offenders has been identified, there is sufficient evidence to charge him, and he has been charged before the prosecutor’s office or any court of appropriate jurisdiction.
Apparently smarting from the recent take-over of the Alona Embrace Hotel, Gonzaga and Benegi-an lashed at Blomqvist who “most effectively poisoned the lips and minds of the complainant, Mr. Green and his witnesses” accusing them of killing Atty. Mia.
According to the respondents, the “machinations of Mrs. Blomqvist is in furtherance of her evil design to desperately grab the rein of ownership of Alona Embrace Hotel.”
Blomqvist together with her new lawyer, Atty. Inocencio Dela Cerna of the Dela Cerna & Associates Law Offices in Cebu City took possession of the 38 room Alona Embrace Hotel standing on a 1,858 prime lot in Barangay Tawala, Panglao on March 4, 2017.
But Blomqvist immediately left for Cebu together with her lawyer after requesting guests to start leaving the hotel to prepare for its temporary closure.
The panel of city prosecutors composed of Deputy City Prosecutor Bibiana Bautista and Assistant City Prosecutors Adolfo Doroy and Julius Cesar were authorized by City Prosecutor Romeo M. Chatto to resolve the murder complaints and all other related incidents “with finality and without need of approval” from him. (Chito M. Visarra)