Slain supporter’s family can pursue case at DOJ: fiscal
CEBU Provincial Prosecutor Pepita Jane Petralba said her office has nothing against the family of a slain political supporter in Sta. Fe town, north Cebu who recently requested a review of their findings.
“That is part of the process and they have the right to do so,” Petralba said in a phone interview yesterday.
Josefina de Lima, mother of the slain Gilbert de Lima, requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to modify the findings of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on primary suspect Pablo Paul Escarlan last Thursday.
The Provincial Prosecutor’s Office downgraded the charges against Escarlan from murder to homicide.
De Lima also appealed to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to implead the son of Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana, Joanes Paulo, whose case was dropped by the handling prosecutor.
Gilbert was killed outside the house of Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana two days before the May 9, 2016 elections.
Escarlan was identified by a witness as the same person who shot Gilbert seven times outside the house of Mayor Esgana shortly after the victim had a heated altercation with Joanes Paulo at 11 p.m. on May 7, 2016.
Joanes Paulo, the witness said, was present when the victim was killed by Escarlan but did nothing to save him or seek police assistance.
Petralba said the handling prosecutor, Ludivico Cutaran, simply based his findings on the evidence submitted to him.
“The resolution of the case will show how he (Cutaran) arrived at the findings. They must be based on the merits of the case,” she said.
In August 2016, the National Bureau of Investigation filed a complaint for murder against Escarlan and Joanes Paulo at the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office over Gilbert’s death.
The complaint was anchored on the testimonies of the witness, Jake Hijapon, a carpenter who claimed to have seen the shooting incident.
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Cutaran, however, dismissed the case against Joanes Paulo for lack of probable cause.
While he indicted Escarlan, Cutaran downgraded the charges against the primary suspect, saying the shooting was a “spur-of-the-moment” reaction following a verbal tussle and that there was no plan to kill the victim.
Cutaran’s ruling was approved by Petralba. But it was not only the victim’s family that filed a Petition for Review before the DOJ.
Petralba said Escarlan also requested the DOJ to set aside the findings of the prosecutor and to dismiss the charges against him instead of downgrading the case from murder to homicide.
The two respondents—Escarlan and Joanes Paulo—denied the accusations against them, saying they were just inside the house of Mayor Esgana when the victim was gunned down.
They said they also had no idea about what happened outside.
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