4 in Isabela town mayor’s slay to be arraigned Monday

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

MANILA, Philippines—Four suspects in the January 22 killing of Mayor Erlinda Domingo of Maconacon, Isabela, are to be arraigned on murder charges before a Quezon City judge on Monday.

Judge Jose Paneda of the  Regional Trial Court’s Branch 220 has set the arraignment of Marsibal Indaman Abduhadi, his wife Mary Grace,  Christian Pajenado and Michael Domingo at 8:30 a.m. on Monday in connection with the killing of Mayor Domingo, 51, and the wounding of her driver, Bernard Plasos, 35, on the night of Jan. 22 outside the Park Villa Apartelle.

They have been charged with murder, attempted murder and other charges, such as illegal possession of firearms and violating the election gun ban.

Mary Grace and Pajenado face separate charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and violation of the gun ban under the Omnibus Election Code.

This means that Paneda’s sala will be handling six cases related to the Domingo ambush-slay, docketed as Q-13-180532 to Q-13-180547, according to a court staffer.

A check with the Quezon City Police District’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit showed that Abduhadi and Mary Grace were transferred last week to the Quezon City Jail and the female dormitory, respectively. The transfer was based on a commitment order issued by the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court in connection with a another case against the couple.

Assistant city prosecutor Rodrigo del Rosario, who handled the inquest proceedings against the accused, lodged separate criminal informations against the suspects on Jan. 28.

In a motion for consolidation filed along with the indictments, Del Rosario pointed out that the cases were “closely related and inextricably interwoven” and that the prosecution “will be presenting common evidence.”

The prosecutor prescribed bail of  P120,000  for each of the accused for the attempted murder charge, P12,000 each for Mary Grace and Pajenado for the election gun ban violation and P80,000 each for Mary Grace and Pajenado for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. But they cannot escape detention as murder is a non-bailable, heinous crime.

The four were arrested in a series of follow-up operations after the  mayor was gunned down as she was alighting from her service vehicle outside the inn.

Abduhadi was tagged as the gunman after driver Plasos  pointed to the suspect as the one who shot him in the right thigh.

Pajenado was first to be arrested on the night of Jan. 22 at a construction site near the crime scene and he identified his cohorts Domingo, Abduhadi, and two others.  Domingo and Mary Grace were collared in separate operations later that night.

Abduhadi was arrested on Jan. 25 in a special operation at the Salaam Compound in Barangay Culiat where he hid following the ambush.

A fifth suspect, Ryan Santiago, surrendered days later to the QCPD but was eventually released since the charges against him are up for preliminary investigation by the prosecutors’ office. A sixth suspect, an alias “Khalid,” is at large.

The arrested suspects have not yet divulged the identity of the mastermind behind the murder of Domingo, who was seeking a second term as mayor at the time of her death.

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