‘NBI prober has ax to grind vs HPG men’
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-7) just wanted to get even with the police highway troopers that;s why they were implicated in the Feb. 18 ambush of lawyer Noel Archival and his companions.
This was the point emphasized by Reynaldo Lugtu, defense counsel of Senior Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, during yesterday’s oral arguments of the case.
Lugtu lashed at the investigation conducted by the NBI-7, saying that one of the investigators—Supervising Agent Jose Ermie Monsanto—just want to get back at the HPG.
“The HPG had filed an administrative case against Mr. Monsanto. The NBI wants to retaliate. No one saw the plate numbers of the vehicles used in the crime until the NBI came in the picture,” Lugtu said.
Lugtu said he is left in quandary as to how his client as well as two other policemen of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) policemen were implicated in the crime.
“As a lawyer, I was taught in school that the first obligation of the prosecution is to prove the identity of the accused. In this case, I believe that no proper identification of the accused was made,” he said.
“No one even saw the actual ambush. This case doesn’t support probable cause for the issuance of arrest warrants against my client and the other accused,” he added.
Judge Maximo Perez of the Argao Regional Trial Court ordered the private prosecutors to file a written comment on the claims of the defense.
Afterwards, the judge said he will decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants against Iglesia, Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion, and PO1 Alex Bacani—all of whom were charged with multiple and frustrated murder in relation to the slay of Archival and his companions.
Lugtu was accompanied by lawyers Joselito Frial.,Inocencio De La Cerna Jr., Hazan Bargamento and Ryan Gabuya during the proceedings yesterday afternoon.
Gloria Lastimosa-Dalawampu and Democrito Barcenas, counsels of the Archival family, were not around when the case was called.
Barcenas earlier told reporters that they won’t attend yesterday’s hearing since they were not furnished with copies of the defense panel’s pleadings.
But the court yesterday ruled that that the defense had sent copies of the pleadings to the private prosecutors.
The defense had asked the court to hold in abeyance the issuance of arrest warrants against the accused and to defer any proceedings while the court has yet to resolve their pleadings.
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