Alleged Dominguez carjack gang hitman denies killing Venson EvangelistaBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Contrary to a slain witness’ depiction of him as a ruthless gunman, Rolando Talban is claiming to have never killed the young car dealer on Jan. 13, 2011.
The alleged gunman claimed he only wrapped the victim’s head with packing tape when the Dominguez gang stole the Toyota Landcruiser that Venson was selling.
Venson’s father recalled how he met face-to-face with his son’s alleged murderer, who addressed him as “Mr. Evangelista” in a subdued tone.
“He is saying the entire opposite of what Mendiola said in his sworn statement and testimony last year, and Alfred is now dead,” Arsenio “Boy” Evangelista said of Talban’s claims.
The older Evangelista, himself a car dealer, personally went to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna on Monday to see Talban, who was tagged by slain witness and ex-member Alfred Mendiola as the one who shot Venson.
“He told me, ‘Please forgive me Mr. Evangelista, but I am not the one who killed your son,’” Arsenio told reporters.
Talban, also known as Eduardo Fernandez, Michael Villafranca and Wilson Mendoza, was also linked to the carjack-slays of Emerson Lozano and driver Ernani Sensil, and Teresita Teano in Quezon City last year.
In his meeting with Arsenio, Talban denied pulling the trigger and pointed to a certain Joel Jacinto as the gunman.
The suspect alleged that it was Mendiola who ordered him to buy gasoline to burn Venson’s body, and that Jayson Miranda was the one who torched the body.
“The way things are going, it will be Talban’s word against the testimony and sworn statements of a defenseless dead man,” Arsenio pointed out.
Mendiola, an accused turned state witness, was killed in May this year in Cavite. Prior to his murder, he executed sworn statements on what he knew of Venson’s death and that of Emerson, son of known lawyer Oliver Lozano.
According to Mendiola, he posed as a buyer while Jacinto, then only known as Joel, acted as a mechanic during the test drive with Venson and the Toyota Landcruiser for sale.
He added that it was Talban who suggested killing whoever came along for the test drive for fear that they might be recognized, adding that he was just arrested in a shootout in Oct. 2010 with the Highway Patrol Group. At that time, Talban was able to post bail.
In his version of the story, Talban denied being the gunman but admitted that the Dominguez brothers were the leaders and financiers of the syndicate.
He also turned the tables on Mendiola, saying it was not he but the slain witness who suggested killing Venson so as not to leave any witnesses who might recognize them.
Roger, Raymond and Miranda have been behind bars since last year while the car theft with homicide case against them for Venson’s death is on trial at a Quezon City court.
After more than a year in hiding, Talban was arrested last week in Dasmariñas, Cavite after an attempted hijacking which injured a truck driver.
According to Arsenio, Talban said he feared for his life and that he might be killed next.
“At one point, I pitied him. Because he is also a victim of circumstance, that’s why he ended up with this kind of life,” the older Evangelista said.
Asked if he believed Talban’s claims of innocence, the father bluntly said, “No.”
“That guy is a professional. He has been in jail countless times. He can transform into a meek creature and back to who he really is,” Arsenio noted.
Even so, this father has found it in his heart to forgive Venson’s killers.
“I forgive them, yes, but the law of man must prevail. They must still pay for what they did to my family,” he said.