Trial of Richard King slay yet to start, but kin hopeful
CEBU CITY—Two years have passed yet the trial on the murder of Cebuano businessman Richard King has yet to start.
The King family in Cebu, however, remained optimistic that justice will soon be served.
“We have faith in our judicial system and we have strong evidence to prove the guilt of all the accused,” lawyer Deolito Alvarez, who was in the United States, said in a text message.
Alvarez, who spoke in behalf of the family, said they believed that the police got all the accused right and that the revelations of Edgar Matobato, a witness at the Senate inquiry into drug-related killings, were not worthy of belief.
Matobato, who claimed to be a member of the Davao Death Squad, testified during the Senate’s public hearing on the continued rise of extrajudicial killings.
He also accused Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte of masterminding the murder of King in June 2014 because of a rivalry over a woman.
READ: Paolo Duterte ordered enemies, Richard King killed–‘DDS member’
The witness said his two companions, who are rebel returnees, were paid P500,000 to kill King.
But Alvarez, the King family’s lawyer since 2002, considered Matobato’s revelation as “absolutely false,” saying the witness just wanted to “cast cloud and put politics into the equation.
READ: King family not convinced Paolo Duterte behind slay–lawyer
Edward Tan, the spokesperson of the King family, said he too could not believe Matobato’s revelations.
“His statements are wrong. For one, he said Richard was killed inside a McDonald’s outlet. That’s wrong. Richard was killed at the Vital C Building,” he told the Inquirer.
BACKSTORY: Hotel chain owner slain in Davao
“That means, he (Matobato) is not a credible witness. I believe his testimonies were politically-motivated. What he said was impossible,” he added.
Tan didn’t give further statements on Matobato’s revelations, saying the family’s lawyer had already spoken.
King, who owned real estate and hotel businesses in Cebu and other parts of the country, was shot dead inside his office at the Vital C Building on Lacson Street, Barrio Obrero, Davao City on June 12, 2014.
Authorities later arrested Paul Dave Molina Labang and brothers Rommel and Rodel de la Cerna. Labang confessed shooting King while the De la Cernas served as lookouts.
Rommel, who was a police asset at the time of the murder, allegedly conducted the surveillance and confirmed that the target was in the building, while Rodel acted as the driver of the getaway motorcycle.
The three men pointed to Senior Supt. Leonardo Felonia, then chief of the regional police intelligence unit in Southern Mindanao, as the mastermind.
In June 2015, Felonia surrendered to then Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte and sought the latter’s help after his name was implicated in the case.
Felonia was turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation and later to the local police for custody.
The ranking police official had repeatedly denied ordering the slay of King.
Felonia, Labang, and the De la Cerna brothers are currently detained pending the resolution of the murder charges filed before the trial court in Davao City.
Alvarez said in a text message to the Inquirer that a pre-trial conference was held before Judge Emmanuel Carpio of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Davao City last Sept. 6.
During the proceedings, the lawyer said the court listened to the stipulations of facts from the parties, and listed the names of witnesses to be presented during the trial.
The trial proper, he said, is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Alvarez said it took a while before the court set the main trial because of various pleadings filed by the defense lawyers.
“There were plenty of procedural maneuvers which accused Felonia made. It caused delay in the case,” he said.
A consolidated report by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) stated that the Davao police had spoken with several private individuals about a “squabble” between King and the son of a business partner over mismanagement of the Crown Regency Resorts on Boracay Island in Aklan.
The suspect was heard arguing with King and making a verbal death threat: “Swerte lang ka kay wala ka sa Davao kay kung naa lang ka sa Davao, gipatay ta na ka (You’re fortunate you are not in Davao or else I would have killed you).”
Last July, President Duterte, in a news conference in Malacañang, said King was involved in the illegal drugs trade.
King’s family cried foul over the insinuations.
King, who has two children, was the owner of Crown Regency Hotel and Towers in Cebu City, the chairman of Vital-C Land Development Corporation, the CEO of J. King and Sons, the president of Fuente Triangle Realty Development Corp, and the founder and director of Boracay Multiple Properties Developers Inc.
His brother Rafael took over the business entities after King was killed two years ago./rga
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