Raising fears that the ongoing investigation of their murder complaints “will not be investigated with the utmost impartiality and disinterestedness”, the prime suspects in the gruesome killing of Atty Manuelita “Mia” Mascarinas-Green asked the members of the panel of city prosecutors to inhibit themselves from conducting the preliminary investigation.
Murder suspects, Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga and Romarico Benegi-an also sought for the transfer of the preliminary investigation to the Office of the State Prosecutor, Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila.
The motion for inhibition with a motion to transfer venue of preliminary investigation was received by the Prosecutors Office on April 7, 2016, halfway through the 60 day period for the prosecution to resolve the complaint.
The motions to inhibit and transfer of venue were received by the Office of the City Prosecutor a day after the issuance of a non-bailable order of arrest against Gonzaga on Friday and the counter affidavits of Gonzaga and Benigi-an claiming they were elsewhere when the killing of Atty. Mia was perpetrated.
Admitting that Atty. Mia was a well known and well-loved lawyer in Bohol, the complaints filed against Gonzaga and Benigi-an has gained “immeasurable outburst and sympathy” and “achieved notoriety and prominence” generating “strong condemnation” from different sectors of the community.
Citing the call of the IBP-Bohol Chapter to all members to wear black armbands as a demonstration of their condemnation of the killing of Atty. Green and the open support showed by court employees can be considered as the “prevailing sentiment of the public prosecutors of Tagbilaran City.”, according to the suspects motion.
Stressing that the suspects “hold utmost faith in the competence” of the prosecutors in Bohol, Gonzaga and Benigi-an cast doubts on their impartiality due to the strong personal emotional relation to the investigation of the murder complaints and the “resounding public outcry seeking justice for the death of Atty. Green.”
The private lawyers of the Greens are awaiting the receipt of the motions to inhibit and transfer of venue before stating their position on the latest move of the respondents which they see as part of the “traditional dilatory tactics” in preliminary investigations.
According to Bautista, the panel will discuss the motion of the respondents next week and if they decide to remove themselves from conducting the preliminary investigation, the complaint will be referred to the regional office of the DOJ.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre ll directed the creation of a panel of prosecutors from the Office of the City Prosecutor, City of Tagbilaran acceding to an urgent request of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Bohol Chapter.
IBP Bohol Chapter Board Resolution No. 1, series of 2017 “believe the suspects will try to intimidate the eventual handling prosecutor and creation of a panel of prosecutors would be a strong deterrence to it.”
In response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) directive, City Prosecutor Romeo M. Chatto issued an office memorandum on March 15, 2017 constituting a three-man panel composed of Deputy City Prosecutor Bibiana Bautista and Assistant City Prosecutors Adolfo Doroy and Julius Cesar.
Chatto gave blanket authorization to the panel of city prosecutors to resolve the murder complaints and all other related incidents “with finality and without need of approval” from him.
According to Bautista, the panel will discuss the motion of the respondents next week and if they decide to remove themselves from conducting the preliminary investigation, the complaint will be referred to the regional office of the DOJ. (Chito M. Visarra)