The lawyer and spokesperson of the King family in Cebu expressed disbelief about the claim of confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hitman that Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte was the mastermind in the slay of Cebuano businessman Richard King in 2014.
Lawyer Deolito Alvarez said he was not convinced with the statements of Edgar Matobato who testified during the Senate’s public hearing on the continued rise of extrajudicial killings and summary executions.
“Absolutely false. I am convinced that the accused who are facing the charge in court are the perpetrators and the statements of the gunman, the lookout and driver of the getaway vehicle pointing to the accused mastermind are true,” he said in a text message to CEBU DAILY NEWS.
“The statement of witness Matobato in trying to cast cloud and put politics into the equation is not true,” he added.
Edward Tan, the spokesperson of the King family, said he, too, could not believe Matobato’s revelations.
“His statements are wrong. For one, he said Richard was killed inside a McDonalds outlet. That’s wrong. Richard was killed at the Vital C Building,” he told Cdn over the phone yesterday.
“That means, he (Matobato) is not a credible witness. I believe his testimonies were politically motivated. What he said was impossible,” he added.
Vice Mayor Duterte, the President’s son, also brushed off the claim as a lie made by a “madman.”
“What (Senator Leila) de Lima and this certain Matobato say in public are bare allegations in the absence of proof. They are mere hearsay. I will not dignify with an answer the accusations of a madman,” he said in a statement posted on the Facebook page of the Davao City government.
In his testimony, Matobato said Paolo Duterte ordered the killing of King because of a rivalry over a woman, a franchisee of McDonald’s fastfood restaurant in Davao City he identified only as “Chua.”
Matobato was apparently referring to Helen Sy Chua, a business partner of King, who was earlier called for questioning involving the murder of the businessman, along with her son Wilbert Chua.
The mother and son both died last year — Helen due to a brain cancer and Wilbert by unknown assailants.
The mother and son went to he National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila a month after the slaying to clear their name, with Helen saying that she had no motive to harm King because apart from the fact that they were business partners for years in the health products firm Vital C Health, “they were friends and classmates since kindergarten,” according to an Inquirer report on July 29, 2014.
Alvarez said Helen Chua was never implicated in the murder of King.
Wilbert Chua, then supplier of hollow blocks for King’s resort project on Boracay Island, also denied any involvement in the crime.
Barely a year later, however, Wilbert, then 33 years old, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Davao City on March 12, 2015. His death remained unsolved up to this time.
Matobato, on the other hand, claimed that he and two companions, who were rebel returnees, were paid P500,000 to kill King.
King, who owned real estate and hotel businesses in Cebu and other parts of the country, was shot dead inside his office at the Vital C Building in Barrio Obrero, Davao City on June 12, 2014. He was 56.
Authorities later arrested Paul Dave Molina Labang, the confessed shooter, and brothers Rommel and Rodel de la Cerna, who served as lookouts.
The three men pointed to Senior Supt. Leonardo Felonia, then chief of the regional police intelligence unit in Southern Mindanao, as mastermind.
Felonia denied the accusations. A consolidated report by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) stated that the Davao police had spoken with several private individuals about a “squabble” between King and the son of a business partner over mismanagement of the Crown Regency Resorts on Boracay Island in Aklan.
The suspect was heard arguing with King and making a verbal death threat: “Swerte lang ka kay wala ka sa Davao, kay kung naa lang ka sa Davao, gipatay ta na ka (You’re fortunate you are not in Davao or else I would have killed you).”
The case concerning Richard’s slay remains pending before the trial court in Davao City.
Last July, President Duterte, in a news conference in Malacañang, said King was involved in illegal drugs trade. He alluded to King as one of the “connections” of Herbert Colangco, a big-time drug personality, who is detained at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Duterte was quoted as saying, “I’m sorry now to say to the public and to his (King) family who is now in Cebu that after all, your family or son was involved in the drug front.”
King’s family cried foul over the insinuations.
Alvarez, the family’s lawyer since 2002, said they had no plans to go after or sue President Duterte but would cooperate in any investigation that may be conducted.
King, who has two children, was the owner of Crown Regency Hotel and Towers in Cebu City, the chairman of Vital-C Land Development Corporation, the CEO of J. King and Sons, the president of Fuente Triangle Realty Development Corp., and the founder and director of Boracay Multiple Properties Developers Inc.
King’s brother Rafael took over his business entities after his death.
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