Robbery charges filed vs 5 men in De Lima aide slayBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—More than five months after the security aide of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was shot dead and his body dumped in Bulacan province, charges of robbery with homicide were filed on Monday against five men linked to his killing.
The case was filed in the Department of Justice by the brother of the victim, Alister Quintos, who, according to a witness, was killed by members of a gang of robbers targeting FX and AUV taxis in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Almario Rentillosa, a member of the gang, has offered to testify against his former cohorts in exchange for his entry into the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
In the complaint filed by Quintos’ brother Adrian, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) recommended the prosecution of five suspected gang members identified as Ritchie John Cahinta; Rentillosa, who served as the group’s driver; Jun Bellera; Ferdinand Paragas; and Chris de la Cruz.
Among those charged, only Rentillosa and Cahinta—who is said to be the gang leader—are in the custody of the police.
Eight other members are also detained following their arrest at a police checkpoint and subsequent follow-up operations.
“I’m happy and I want to thank the NBI and DOJ for their help and effort and Secretary De Lima for continuously monitoring this,” said Quintos’ brother as he added that the family was finally seeing progress in the case following a five-month-long wait for justice to be served.
According to him, the suspects should face the appropriate penalty for their actions, “even the death penalty, if possible.”
Quintos’ body was found in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, last May 10.
Speaking to reporters, De Lima said that based on the testimony of Rentillosa, Quintos was killed because he resisted when the gang started taking his valuables as well as those of the other passengers while they were traveling along Cogeo, Antipolo City.
“When the holdup was declared, Ali [Quintos] drew out his gun and shot [one of the suspects, Bellera] but unfortunately, his gun jammed [soon after] … and he was shot by the gang leader,” De Lima said, noting that her security aide was an expert marksman and “had his gun not jammed, he would have shot the gang members.”
The justice secretary said that inside the vehicle with Quintos were the five suspects and two female members of the robbery gang, as well as the other passengers. But she said that during the shooting, one of the passengers was able to escape and “until now … has not surfaced.’’
“At least, we are close to getting justice [for Quintos],” she said, adding that she would leave it to the WPP to determine if Rentillosa was qualified to turn state witness.
Rentillosa’s lawyer, Jose Marie Carbonell, told reporters that his client was also a victim of the gang since they threatened to kill him if he did not take part in their operations.—With Tetch Torres, INQUIRER.net
Originally posted: 1:36 pm | Monday, October 22nd, 2012