Family of slain Ecija mayor asks prosecutors to inhibit themselves from case
CABANATUAN CITY—The family of slain Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio town, Nueva Ecija province, has asked the city’s prosecutors to inhibit themselves from the murder cases filed against the suspected killers, including the supposed mastermind.
The Bote family filed the urgent motion for inhibition covering the entire staff of the Cabanatuan City Prosecutor’s Office on July 25 in the office of the regional prosecutor at San Fernando City in Pampanga province.
“My clients believe they could not obtain an impartial investigation from them… [They want] the cold neutrality of an impartial judge,” lawyer Paul Michael Cuñano, one of the family’s counsels, said on Thursday.
Bote was shot and killed as his vehicle left the compound of the National Irrigation Administration in Cabanatuan on July 3. On July 11 in Camarines Sur province, police arrested suspects Florencio Suarez and Robert Gumacay who were driving a vehicle that investigators said could have been the getaway car caught by security cameras at the crime scene.
An architect, Arnold Gamboa, surrendered to the police after being tagged as the man who allegedly drove one of the suspects to a church to hide after the killing.
The suspected mastermind, contractor Christian Saquilabon, and several others have yet to be arrested.
According to the Bote family’s motion, “respondent Saquilabon and his family are very well known in Cabanatuan City … and have developed camaraderie and friendship with most, if not all, … city prosecutors.”
According to the family, Saquilabon was a friend of city prosecutor Renato Villaroman, who would ultimately decide on the case.
The City Prosecutor’s Office is handling the preliminary investigation of the suspects.
The Bote family said it wanted the case transferred to the Department of Justice in Manila. It also cited the presence of lawyer Mario Benitez, counsel for person of interest, Ireneo Cruz. Benitez’s son is an assistant prosecutor in Cabanatuan City.
Despite the motion, Bote’s family attended the preliminary hearing on Aug. 9 and even confronted some of the suspects. —ARMAND GALANG
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.