By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol September 16,2016 - 10:35 PM


TWO years have passed and the court trial in relation to the slaying of Cebuano businessman Richard King has yet to start.

The King family in Cebu, however, remained optimistic that justice will soon be served, particularly with the case now again in the limelight following allegations by a confessed hitman before the Senate that the killing was masterminded by Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, the son of President Rodrigo Duterte.

As the King family rejected this supposed new development in the case, the family’s legal counsel said they have reasons to believe the original suspects, including a senior police officer, were the ones responsible for the crime.

“We have faith in our judicial system and we have strong evidence to prove the guilt of all the accused,” said lawyer Deolito Alvarez who spoke on behalf of the family.
Alvarez, who is currently in Los Angeles, USA to attend to family matters, answered queries through text messages.

He said they believed that the police got all the accused right, and that the revelations of Edgar Matobato, a witness at the Senate inquiry into drug-related killings initiated by Duterte critic Sen. Leila de Lima, were not worthy of belief.

Matobato, who claimed to be a member of the shadowy group Davao Death Squad (DDS), testified during the Senate’s public hearing on the continued rise of extrajudicial killings, and made damning claims involving alleged killings perpetrated by DDS and by President Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City; and against the President’s son

Paolo, who allegedly masterminded the murder of King in 2014 because of a rivalry over a woman.

The witness said his two companions, who were rebel returnees, were paid P500,000 to kill King.

Dark cloud
Alvarez, the King family’s lawyer since 2002, had described Matobato’s revelation as “absolutely false,” saying the witness just wanted to “cast cloud (into who really were responsible for the killing) and put politics into the equation.”

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.

The 56-year-old King, owner of the Crown Regency Group of Hotels and health products company Vital-C, was shot at close range in the head while in a gathering of his distributors inside Vital-C’s building on Lacson Street, Barrio Obrero, Davao City on June 12, 2014.

King was also the chair of the Vital-C Land Development Corp, 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.

Plea of innocence

Days after the murder, then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed that local police forces would solve the killing, which eventually led to the arrest of three suspects.

The Davao City Police Office arrested Paul Labang, the alleged triggerman positively identified by witnesses; and brothers Rodel and Rommel dela Cerna, the lookouts. Rommel allegedly conducted the surveillance and confirmed that the target was in the building while Rodel acted as the driver of the get-away motorcycle.
Rommel was said to be an active police asset at the time of the murder.

After their arrest, Rommel claimed during an interview with reporters that the killing was ordered by a high-ranking police official.

The next day, Duterte, on a short notice, arranged a meeting with investigators at the National Bureau of Investigation office in the city. Duterte explained to the NBI that former police regional intelligence unit chief, Supt. Leonardo Felonia surrendered to him and sought his help after his name was implicated in the murder.

Duterte said that Felonia refused to surrender to the PNP and that he suggested that he surrender to the NBI instead.

Felonia, during the short press conference with Duterte, insisted on his innocence and committed to fully cooperate with authorities.

Trial dates

Felonia, Labang and the De la Cerna brothers are currently detained pending the resolution of the murder charges filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Davao City.
Alvarez said a pre-trial conference was held before Davao City RTC Branch 16 Judge Emmanuel Carpio last Sept. 6.

During the proceedings, the lawyer said the court listened to the stipulations of facts from the parties, and listed the names of witnesses to be presented during the trial.
The trial proper, he said, is set on Nov. 14.

Alvarez said it took a while before the court set the main trial because of various pleadings filed by the defense lawyers.
“There were plenty of procedural maneuvers which accused Felonia made. It caused delay in the case,” he said.

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.”
Members of the King’s family cried foul over the insinuations but stopped short of confronting the President over naming Richard King as an alleged big-time drug operator.

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TAGS: Davao, Davao City, Davao Death Squad, DDS, Duterte, Edgar Matobato, Killing of King, King family, Paolo Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte, Richard King, Rodrigo Duterte

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