Slain Ako Bicol rep’s family: ‘We fear for our lives, safety of witnesses’
MANILA, Philippines — The family of slain Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said Tuesday that they are fearing for their lives and the safety of their witnesses after a court had granted the bail request of former Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, the alleged mastermind in the murder of the party-list lawmaker in 2018.
“We are very afraid not only for our lives but of course the lives and the families of the witnesses… This man [Baldo] has the capability for violence,” Justin, Batocabe’s eldest son, said in an interview at the House of Representatives.
Justin also said Baldo could flee the country, “tamper evidence,” and “intimidate, threaten and cause harm to the witnesses.”
“This man has the capability for violence. He also had the capability to hide from the police. Despite a nationwide manhunt, he ridded [sic] police for five days so nakakatakot po talaga,” he added.
Meanwhile, Batocabe’s wife Gertie lamented that despite the strong evidence and the many witnesses they presented, Regional Trial Court Branch 10 in Legazpi City allowed the bail of Baldo last Friday.
“We feel it’s a miscarriage of justice… It’s like it’s the second time that he was killed,” the widow said.
“We are appealing to everyone concerned especially to the judge to take a second look. Ito kami ngayon we are scared of our lives,” she added.
Gertie said Baldo has yet to be freed while Justin said the public prosecutors are set to file Tuesday a motion for reconsideration before the lower court.
Justin also mulls urging House members to conduct an investigation into Baldo’s looming release.
The family also thanked the Party-list Coalition Foundation and House members for supporting their fight.
In a privilege speech also on Tuesday, AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin slammed the court’s decision as a “mockery of justice” that “sets a dangerous precedent.”
“Murder is essentially a nonbailable crime. It is an insult to the efforts of the authorities. The judge, in her intransigence to stick to the letter of the law, failed to uphold its spirit,” said Garin, a friend of Batocabe.
“It has also come to my attention that some of the accused-turned witnesses have recanted or are about to recant. This sets a dangerous precedent,” she added.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it would “exhaust all legal remedies” amid Baldo’s possible release.
“We will confer that to the OSG [Office of the Solicitor General]. We’ll be asking their assistance kung ano ang pwede natin gawin, although we cannot do anything about it,” PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said Monday.
“It’s because court order ‘yun. But we have an officer, especially sa CIDG, na pwede kami makapag-coordinate doon sa OSG kung ano ang magandang gawin,” he added.
Batocabe and his police escort, SPO2 Orlando Diaz, were shot dead while leaving a gift-giving event for senior citizens on December 22, 2018. The 52-year-old legislator was supposed to run against Baldo for the mayoral post.
Police have identified Baldo as the mastermind behind the congressman’s murder. The former mayor and his alleged cohorts are now facing murder charges, but Baldo has repeatedly denied the allegations. /kga
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