DAVAO CITY: Almost a year after disclosing the identity of the alleged mastermind behind the killing of Digos City broadcaster Nestor Bedolido, the court has ordered that the self-confessed gunman be removed from the list of accused and placed under the government’s witness protection program.
It was Voltaire Mirafuentes and his brother Henry, who named former Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas as the brains in the murder of Bedolido, along with Mayor Vicente Fernandez of Matan-ao town, Ali Ordaneza, and Bado Sanchez.
Judge Loida Posadas-Kahulugan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 18 in Davao del Sur ordered the Mirafuentes brothers and Artemio Timosan discharged as accused in the case.
In the order dated July 22, Posadas-Kahulugan also ordered the release of Henry from the Davao del Sur Provincial Rehabilitation Center.
In 2013, the court dismissed the complaints against Cagas, Fernandez, and Sanchez. But Justice Sec. Leila de Lima reversed the court’s decision in a resolution she passed in August 2014.
The statements of the Mirafuentes brothers, according to de Lima, were “positive and categorical and sufficient to form a reasonable belief that the murder has been committed.”
She said the individual statements of the Mirafuentes brothers corroborated each other “in material points to establish conspiracy among Cagas, Fernandez, Ordaneza, and Sanchez.”
De Lima also noted that there was no sufficient evidence to establish probable cause against Timosan, who is in hiding.
She also said that the Mirafuentes brothers are immune to prosecution because they have been admitted to the witness protection program.
On October 21, 2014, private prosecutor Caesar Europa filed a motion to strike down the Mirafuentes brothers and Timosan from the list of the accused, noting that Mirafuentes had already been admitted as state witness.
Reacting to the court order, lawyer Europa said that since the Mirafuentes brothers “have been effectively removed as accused, they can now testify against Cagas, Fernandez and the others.”
Former governor Cagas is currently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Digos, while Fernandez is detained at the Davao del Sur Provincial Rehabilitation Center.