Richard King case moving slowly
CEBU CITY—Two years have passed yet the trial of the case on the murder of Cebuano businessman Richard King has yet to start.
The King family in Cebu, however, remained optimistic that justice would soon prevail.
“We have faith in our judicial system and we have strong evidence to prove the guilt of all the accused,” said lawyer Deolito Alvarez in a text message.
Alvarez, who spoke on behalf of the Kings, said he believed that police got all the accused right, and the revelations of Edgar Matobato, a witness at the Senate inquiry into drug-related killings, were incredible.
Matobato, who claimed to be a member of the Davao Death Squad, told the Senate that the killing of Richard was ordered by the eldest child of President Duterte, Paolo, vice mayor of Davao City.
But Alvarez, the King family’s lawyer since 2002, said he considers Matobato’s testimony as “absolutely false” and intended to inject “politics into the equation.”
Edward Tan, spokesperson of the King family, said he, too, could not believe Matobato.
He cited errors in Matobato’s accounts, like the place where Richard was killed. Matobato told the Senate that Richard was killed at a McDonald’s outlet. “Richard was killed at the Vital C Building,” said Tan.
“What he said is impossible,” Tan said of Matobato’s testimony.
King, who owned land and hotels in Cebu and other parts of the country, was shot dead inside his office at Vital C Building on Lacson Street, Barrio Obrero, Davao City on June 12, 2014.
Police later arrested Paul Dave Molina Labang and brothers Rommel and Rodel de la Cerna. Labang confessed to 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 motorcycle used as a getaway vehicle.
The three men pointed to Senior Supt. Leonardo Felonia, then chief of the regional police intelligence unit in Southern Mindanao, as mastermind.
In June 2015, Felonia surrendered to then Davao City mayor and now President Duterte and sought his help.
Felonia was turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation and later to the Davao City police for custody.
Felonia, Labang and the De la Cerna brothers are currently detained in Davao City.
Lawyer Alvarez, in a text message, told the Inquirer that a pretrial conference on the case was held in the presence of Judge Emmanuel Carpio of RTC Branch 16 in Davao City, on Sept. 6.
Trial proper, said Alvarez, is set on Nov. 14.
He said the camp of Felonia is to blame for the delay. “There were plenty of procedural maneuvers,” said Alvarez.
A report by the Special Investigation Task Group, formed for Richard’s case, cited investigation by the Davao City police that tend to link Richard’s killing with a “squabble” over mismanagement of Crown Regency Resorts in Boracay, a hotel owned by Richard.
A suspect, according to the investigation report, was overheard arguing with Richard and saying: “You’re fortunate you’re not in Davao or else I would have killed you.” The report did not identify who among the accused issued the threat.
In a press conference in Malacañang in July, Mr. Duterte identified King as one of the country’s biggest drug lords, prompting protests from the King family.
King, who has two children, owned Crown Regency Hotel and Towers in Cebu City.
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