New judge to handle case vs ex-gov
DIGOS CITY, Philippines—The murder case filed against former Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas, a mayor and two others was raffled anew on Monday after the original judge inhibited herself from handling it for still unknown reasons.
Judge Magnolia Velez of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, formerly assigned to the Office of Solicitor General in Manila and a resident of Cagayan de Oro City, took over from RTC Judge Carmelita Davin.
Both did not issue any statement on the reraffling of the case.
The case against Cagas, Mayor Vicente Fernandez of Matanao town, also in Davao del Sur province, Bado Sanchez and Ali Ordaneza stemmed from the 2010 killing of local journalist Nestor Bedolido. Cagas, tagged the mastermind, has denied any involvement in the crime.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the filing of the murder charge in August.
The confessed gunman, Voltaire Mirafuentes, and his brother Henry implicated Cagas and the three others in the killing of Bedolido. Voltaire is now under the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Witness Protection Program while Henry, who claimed he served as a lookout, had been remanded to the Davao del Sur Provincial Rehabilitation Center here.
“I have not met them or talked to them in person. In fact, nobody among them was present during our preliminary hearing in the DOJ in Manila,” Cagas told reporters last week.
Again, he said his incarceration was the result of political machinations.
Lawyer Cesar Europa, counsel for the Bedolido family, said a hearing on the case was scheduled for Tuesday in Davin’s sala but it might not push through because of the reraffling.
“The case folder is considerably thick and the new judge has to go over it thoroughly. We will just wait for the advice of the new judge as to when the hearing would resume,” Europa told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
Cagas surrendered to police officers on Oct. 20 shortly before a warrant was issued against him and his coaccused. On Wednesday, he said he had already adjusted to life in the city district jail.
“What I’m doing here now is keeping myself busy by solving crossword puzzles and Sudoku,” he said. He peeped through a small opening at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s infirmary, where he has been kept since his surrender. Eldie Aguirre, Inquirer Mindanao
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