Rival denies link to Isabela town mayor’s killing

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05:20 AM January 31st, 2013

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By: Julie M. Aurelio, January 31st, 2013 05:20 AM

Slain mayor Erlinda Domingo. . Photo by VILLAMOR VISAYA JR./INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

A political rival of slain Isabela town mayor Erlinda Domingo has submitted an affidavit denying any involvement in the murder.

Walter Villanueva, who was set to challenge Domingo in the upcoming mayoralty race in Maconacon, Isabela, said he executed the affidavit after some newspaper reports linked him to the mayor’s ambush-slay on Jan. 22.

“I do not have any idea why I am being tagged as the man behind the killing of Mayor Erlinda Domingo. Furthermore, I deny any connection with the said crime and with the persons allegedly arrested by police following the killing. I do not know them nor have I met any of them,” the politician said in his affidavit, a copy of which was furnished to the Philippine Daily Inquirer by a source.

Domingo, 51, was shot dead by armed men outside the Park Villa Apartelle in Barangay (village) West Avenue. Her driver, Bernard Plasos, was wounded in the attack.

“I am now executing this affidavit because several newspaper articles naming me as a suspect in her killing have been published and I want to clear my name of the crime being imputed against me,” he said.

Villanueva pointed out that even though he ran and lost against Domingo in the 2010 mayoralty race, he had “no reason to physically harm or kill her.”

“In fact, after the elections, I congratulated her and extended my offer for reconciliation and my help in whatever capacity,” the politician said.

He said the last time he saw Domingo was during Maconacon town’s founding anniversary and fiesta in 2011, adding he had no contact or connection with the mayor since then.

In his affidavit, Villanueva said he was in Baguio City with his wife on the night of Jan. 22, tending to a ready-to-wear clothing business he ran with his wife.

Police had quickly rounded up four suspects in the killing. In separate raids in Barangay Culiat and Barangay Commonwealth in Quezon City,  police picked up suspects Marsibal Indaman “Bagwis” Abduhadi and his wife, Mary Grace, Christian Pajenado and Michael Domingo.

A fifth reported suspect went to the QC police station on Tuesday night but was not detained.  The police said it no longer had authority to hold Ryan Santiago, 32, who they had earlier tagged as a suspect.

Santiago went to Camp Karingal to deny any involvement in the mayor’s slay. Police had included his name in a referral sheet sent to the QC prosecutors office. He was assisted by a lawyer from the Public Attorney’s Office.

Police earlier said Santiago was among those tagged by Pajenado, who was reportedly arrested in a construction site near the crime scene and who “confessed” to being part of the hit squad.

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