Judge tagged in fellow magistrate’s slay yields
MANILA, Philippines — A retired judge allegedly behind the murder of a fellow magistrate has surrendered to agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, the Supreme Court said on Saturday.
Supreme Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said he had informed Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta of the surrender of retired judge Oscar Tomarong, formerly of the regional trial court (RTC) in Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.
Tomarong is accused of plotting the May 9, 2019, murder of Judge Reymar Lacaya of the RTC in nearby Liloy town.
On Wednesday, Acting Judge Anthony Isaw of the Liloy court issued an arrest warrant against Tomarong for murder, a nonbailable crime.
Antonio Pagatpat, the NBI deputy director for regional operations service, said Tomarong “surrendered due to extreme pressure from our teams closely monitoring his residence and possible hideouts.”
Tomarong himself is a former NBI agent who used to be assigned to the bureau’s antigraft division.
‘Person of interest’
The NBI tagged Tomarong as a “person of interest” after its agents, together with police and naval intelligence operatives, arrested his driver and errand boy, Juliver Cabating, about two months after Lacaya’s murder.
Two other suspects identified only as Jerry and Ramil were subsequently charged, together with Cabating, with murder.
Investigators had obtained closed-circuit television footage showing Cabating meeting with the other suspects near the court premises in Sindangan on the day Lacaya was killed.
Lacaya was shot dead while boarding his vehicle at the parking lot of the Liloy court. Witnesses reported seeing only one gunman.
The slain judge’s wife told investigators that four days before he was killed, her husband told her that Tomarong vented his anger at him over matters concerning work.
Tomarong applied for optional retirement after the murder.
Marquez said his office had earlier received reports about Tomarong while he was still a judge in Liloy. He then reshuffled Tomarong’s court assignment with that of Lacaya, who was then the RTC judge in Sindangan.
According to the NBI investigation, Lacaya, during his three months on the Liloy court, may have discovered numerous irregularities as well as court orders reversed by Tomarong which led to the release of several drug suspects.
Lacaya was killed shortly after the rearrest of those suspects, the NBI said.
He was the 30th judge to be murdered since 1999, according to the Supreme Court. —with Inquirer Research
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.