2 convicted in ex-Sta. Rosa mayor’s slay; masterminds at largeBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
BIÑAN CITY—The gunmen in the 2005 murder of former Sta. Rosa City Mayor Leon Arcillas were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Herminigildo Vibal Jr. and Arnold David were convicted of two counts of direct assault and murder for the killing of Arcillas and his bodyguard PO2 Erwin Rivera.
The two were also sentenced to 12 to 17 years in jail for the frustrated murder of PO3 Wilfredo Almendras, also a security aide of the late mayor.
The decision was promulgated on Tuesday in the sala of Judge Teodoro Solis of the Regional Trial Court Branch 25 here.
In an interview, Arcillas’ daughter and now Sta. Rosa City Mayor Arlene Arcillas welcomed the court’s decision.
“But of course we also want those still at large (be arrested) for us to attain full justice for Mayor Leon,” she said.
Arlene, who came to the promulgation with her brother Arnold, said Vibal and David only acted as “pawns” and were hired to assassinate the former mayor in the city hall on May 10, 2005.
The alleged masterminds, identified as Ricardo Pineda and Edwin Barqueros, remain at large.
Public Attorney’s Office counsel Brenda Rhea Fesalbon-Mangahis told Solis that she would concur first with Vibal and David if they want to appeal the court ruling in 15 days.
In previous Inquirer reports about the case, one suspect who confessed to being the lookout, Cipriano Refrea, had been murdered.
Refrea had been considered a state witness in the case before he was killed.
Aside from the two who were convicted, one of those arrested and charged in relation with the murder of the former mayor was Daniel Yason, a contractor believed to be associated with now Vice Mayor Joey Catindig.
The former mayor was gunned down on May 10, 2005, as he walked at the Sta. Rosa City Hall after officiating at the wedding of 15 couples. His assailants walked casually away after the attack.
In a report in February 2010, the Inquirer quoted Supt. Rodney Ramirez as identifying another suspect as Edwin Barqueros, former executive assistant of Catindig.
The Inquirer report quoted a doctor, Elvis Bedia, who checked on the former mayor after the attack as saying Leon’s skull was almost shattered. “The damage to his brain was just enormous,” Bedia was then quoted as saying.
The 2005 murder was the second attempt on the late Arcillas’ life. The first came in 2003 when, at a meeting of homeowners’ groups in a village here, a motorcycle-riding gunman shot him. He was wounded in the thigh but survived.