DOJ order: Find Ramona Bautista
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering placing Ma. Ramona “Mara” Bautista, a principal suspect in the October 28 murder of her brother, Ramgen Bautista, on the “red notice list” of the International Police (Interpol) to restrict her movement abroad.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima disclosed this Sunday as she ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to immediately call the Interpol in an effort to bring Ramona back to the country.
“I asked the NBI to double-check the rules on the Interpol red notice list … if it’s possible to put someone on that list without yet an arrest warrant being issued versus him/her,” De Lima said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The secretary issued the directive after the media reported that Ramona, 22, flew to Istanbul, Turkey, via Hong Kong on Friday night. Ramona got married to a Turkish national three years ago, according to her half-brother, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
The Philippines has no extradition treaty with Turkey.
Ramona left the country as police were about to file charges against her and her other brother, Ramon Joseph, 18, for the murder of Ramgen. Police are holding Ramon Joseph in custody.
Ramgen, 23, was shot and stabbed in the family residence in Parañaque City allegedly by two men who had since been arrested and had accused the two siblings of being behind the murder.
The murder allegedly stemmed from a feud over the monthly allowance from their father, former Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr.
De Lima shared Senator Revilla Jr.’s observation that Ramona’s questionable foreign trip could be an admission of guilt.
“That is always the presumption unless negated by a good explanation for such flight,” she said. “But the burden to prove otherwise falls on the suspect/respondent/accused concerned.”
Despite the absence of an extradition treaty with Turkey, the Philippine government can still “cause the return to the country” of Ramona, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesperson, on Sunday said “once DFA gets a court order, we will cause the cancellation of (Ramona’s) passport so her movements are restricted.”
The foreign office is also considering “exploring the (Interpol) mechanism to cause her return to the country,” Hernandez said.
Aside from the Philippine Embassy in Ankara, which is headed by Ambassador Marilyn Alarilla, the country operates a consulate general in Istanbul and honorary consulates in Izmir and Gaziantep.
On Revilla Jr.’s request for help in bringing his half-sister back to the country and face justice, the DFA official said the department would “work closely with the Department of Justice on this matter to ensure that justice is served.”
Hernandez noted that the Philippines “has extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties with several countries, which we can invoke to help locate, as well as cause the return to the country of persons evading criminal charges or punishment.”
In a hastily called press conference on Saturday night, Revilla Jr. asked the DFA to “exert legal and diplomatic efforts to bring Ramona back to the country and face our justice system.”
The senator said he was consulting lawyers and would ask the Bureau of Immigration to cancel Ramona’s passport. The DFA, not the BI, issues and cancels Philippine passports.
The Manila International Airport Authority has confirmed that Ramona boarded Cathay Pacific Airways Flight CX 902 bound for Hong Kong at around 9 p.m. on Friday.
Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson, disclosed that Ramona had indicated her destination as Istanbul and that she had “no return ticket.” With a report from Christine O. Avendaño
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.