THE two suspects arrested in connection with the killing of Philippine Air Force Staff Sergeant Mark Herbert Oberes pleaded not guilty to charges of murder.
Joshua Garciano and Resamie Cabañog were arraigned before Judge Jacinto Fajardo of the Regional Trial Court Branch 66 in Talisay City on Wednesday.
The prosecution is set to present its evidence against the two accused on May 2.
In an interview, Garciano’s lawyer Rameses Victorious Villagonzalo said they have filed a petition for bail in court to allow his client to secure temporary liberty during the pendency of the case.
Murder is a non-bailable offense.
But the law allows an accused charged with a capital offense to post bail if the evidence of guilt presented by the prosecution is weak.
So far, Villagonzalo said the prosecution has not presented any reliable proof that Garciano took part in the killing of Oberes.
“The evidence against him is really weak. He was not part of the plot to kill the victim,” he said.
Garciano earlier claimed that he was present when Oberes was mercilessly beaten and set ablaze inside his own car in Barangay Valencia, Carcar City last January 31.
But the 22-year-old suspect made it clear that his only participation was to drive the vehicle that transported the victim to the crime scene.
Villagonzalo expressed their intent to turn Garciano into a state witness.
However, the victim’s family has been hesitant, claiming that Garciano, an engineering graduate, played a vital role in the crime as the suspect allegedly sent death threats to the victim through text messages.
The Talisay City police earlier filed a murder complaint against Garciano and his 20-year-old girlfriend, Cabañog, who were arrested an hour after the body of Oberes was found inside a burning vehicle in Carcar City last Jan. 31.
Aside from the two suspects, the police also filed a murder complaint against Cabañog’s mother Edna, Tomas Isugan, and two other unidentified men — all of whom remain at large.
The police investigation disclosed that Oberes had an illicit relationship with Cabañog for some time. When Cabañog decided to break up with Oberes, the victim allegedly threatened to post their sex acts on social media.
When she learned about it, Edna, the mother, allegedly hatched a plan to kill Oberes.
Authorities continue to track down the whereabouts of Edna and the other suspects who were reportedly spotted in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.