FORMER Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas will now have to face in court the man he allegedly delegated to murder a journalist in Digos City in 2010.
This came after the court has ordered the exclusion of the self-confessed gunman in the murder of Nestor Bedolido from the list of the accused, a move that is seen to bolster the allegation that Cagas and Matan-ao Mayor Vincente Fernandez were the one who hatched the murder.
Last week, Judge Loida Posadas-Kahulugan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 18 in Davao del Sur ordered Voltaire Mirafuentes, his brother Henry, and Artemio Timosan discharged as accused in the Bedolido killing.
Kahulugan said that with the Mirafuentes brothers’ admission to the program and the immunity that goes along with it, the “the prosecution’s motion to drop/discharge them as accused is granted.”
“They have been effectively removed as accused, and they can now testify against Cagas, Fernandez and the others,” said Private Prosecutor Caesar Europa.
Posadas also ordered the release of Henry from the Davao de Sur Provincial Rehabilitation Center, the same facility where Fernandez is currently detained. Cagas, on the other hand, is detained at the Bureau of Jail Managament and Penology in Digos City. The other accused are Ali Ordaneza, and Bado Sanchez.
Cagas and Fernandez denied the allegation. In 2013, a court dismissed the complaints against them but Justice Sec. Leila de Lima reversed it in a resolution in August last year.
Europa filed a motion to strike down the Mirafuentes brothers and Timosan from the list of the accused in a motion filed on October 21, 2014. The lawyer said Mirafuentes brothers had already been admitted as state witnesses.
This was opposed by Fernandez, who said the Mirafuentes brothers are not qualified to be admitted to the program.
The killing of Bedolido, according to the Mirafuentes brothers, was hatched at the house of Cagas in Estrada Street in Digos City in late 2009.
The statements of the Mirafuentes brothers, according to de Lima, were “positive and categorical and sufficient to form a reasonable belief that the murder has been committed…”
She also described the statements of the Mirafuentes brothers as something that corroborated each other “in material points to establish conspiracy among Cagas, Fernandez, Ordaneza, and Sanchez…”
“There appears to be no collusion when their respective statements were executed. They qualify as interlocking confessions,” de Lima said, adding that “we find them admissible against those whom they implicated….”
De Lima also noted that there was no sufficient evidence to establish probable cause against Timosan, who is in hiding right now.
She also said that the Mirafuentes brothers are immune to prosecution because they have been admitted to the witness protection program. | JMT, NewsDesk