Daraga mayor asks for Manila trial of Batocabe slay case
The mayor accused of masterminding the killing of former Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe in December appealed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to let the murder charges filed against him be heard in a court in Manila instead of in Legazpi City.
Speaking to reporters in Manila, Mayor Carlwyn Baldo of Daraga, Albay, said he and his family had been receiving death threats which he believed were coming from Batocabe’s “true killers.”
Early this year, the DOJ indicted Baldo and six other suspected hit men of murder for their alleged involvement in Batocabe’s death — the first recorded killing of a lawmaker under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term — on Dec. 22.
The case has been raffled off to the Legazpi Regional Trial Court. No warrant has yet been issued for Baldo’s arrest over the murder, a nonbailable charge.
For the trial venue to be changed, Baldo’s party must first submit a petition to the court where his case was raffled off.
The reelectionist mayor said that since he was tagged as Batocabe’s killer, a number of men had been spotted casing the family home in Daraga.
He also said “sinister forces” in Legazpi were hell-bent on pinning him for Batocabe’s slay.
“The pressures exerted against me and my family are really serious and unfair,” he said. “They have been doing several tactics to have me suspended as mayor, and are trying to make things extremely difficult for my legal team.”
It was unclear which tactics Baldo was referring to. But before his indictment, he was arrested by Legazpi police for the unrelated charge of possession of illegal firearms. Baldo is free on P3-million bail.
He said that by having the trial venue transferred to Manila, he might have a shot at a “fairer and safer” trial which could hopefully lead to his exoneration.
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