Witness takes stand vs Dominguez brothers
Alfred Mendiola, one of the accused in the Venson Evangelista case, on Monday positively identified brothers Roger and Raymond Dominguez as the ones who masterminded the killing of the car dealer in January.
Before Judge Luisa Quijano-Padilla of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 215, Mendiola narrated his “personal knowledge” of the crime which would determine whether or not he was qualified to turn state witness.
Mendiola’s petition to be discharged as a government witness is still pending before the court although he has already been placed under the justice department’s Witness Protection Program.
For more than an hour, he narrated how he met the Dominguezes, how he became a member of a car theft group supposedly headed by the brothers and how he took part in the carjacking of Evangelista’s Toyota Land Cruiser.
Evangelista’s charred remains were found in Nueva Ecija on January 14, a day after he disappeared in Quezon City while on a test drive with buyers who had expressed interest in the Land Cruiser.
In court, Mendiola admitted that he and a certain “Joel” were the buyers who had gone on the test drive with Evangelista, upon the instructions of Raymond Dominguez.
Mendiola said Raymond had ordered him to introduce himself as Allan Torres, Joel as his mechanic and to tell the victim that he wanted to buy the sport utility vehicle (SUV) as a present for his father.
He recalled that on January 13, he called up the victim’s father, Arsenio, to set up a meeting in the afternoon. It was the victim, however, who met him at the former’s house in Cubao, Quezon City. The victim initially refused to let him take the SUV on a test drive but Mendiola said he was able to talk him into it.
During the test drive, Mendiola said that they were being followed by other members of the car theft syndicate: Jason Miranda and Rolando Talban were in a green Pajero while Raymond Dominguez was in a white Expedition.
On their way back to the Evangelistas’ Joel pointed a gun at the victim who put his hands up and told them in Filipino, “Have mercy on me, I have a family.”
Joel then took over the wheel as he pushed Evangelista into the back seat next to Mendiola.
Talban soon boarded the SUV and covered the victim’s eyes and mouth with tape while also tying his hands. A blanket was then placed over him.
The convoy proceeded to a warehouse in Mabalacat, Pampanga, where Roger Dominguez was waiting. Roger had asked Mendiola to put two used tires and a gallon of gas in the green Pajero. Mendiola said that at this point, he left the group when he was taken to a mall in San Fernando, Pampanga, by Roger’s girlfriend.
The case was a classic example of the car theft modus operandi of the Dominguez brothers as revealed to Mendiola by Roger after they met and became friends at the Bulacan Provincial Jail in August last year. During that time, Mendiola was doing time for estafa while Roger was detained on charges of car theft with homicide.
By November, they were both out on bail. Mendiola said Roger had paid for his bail and then he was recruited into the syndicate, initially as a seller of wrecked, flooded or stolen vehicles. “I was tempted. I wanted a lot of money too,” Mendiola said, when asked by the court why he agreed to join the gang.
Before the Evangelista case, Mendiola had also posed as a buyer for the group three other times.
Mendiola said he eventually surrendered to the police after Evangelista’s body was found out of fear that he would be killed by the group.
At Monday’s hearing, he showed up in a bullet-proof vest, unfazed despite an attempt on his life at around 2 a.m. on Saturday at the Bulacan Provincial Jail. He also had on a yellow rosary.
Attempt on Mendiola’s life
Two molotov bombs and a grenade were reportedly hurled into Mendiola’s cell by still unidentified men, Arsenio “Boy” Evangelista said in an interview before the hearing. No one was hurt in the attack, with only one molotov bomb exploding but Arsenio expressed his belief that the attack was meant to intimidate Mendiola.
“But I don’t think he’ll be scared. He’s been consistent with his statements. I’m confident that he’ll still say [in court] everything he has said in his sworn statements,” Arsenio said.
He shared that Mendiola was “out on temporary shelter” from the WPP and that it was Mendiola himself who opted to stay at the Bulacan jail where he would be nearer to his family and friends.
The hearing will continue on July 8.
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