THE Department of Justice (DoJ) has given protection to a father who lost five members of his family to a gruesome massacre in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan a week ago.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd said he had placed Dexter Carlos Sr. under the provisional coverage of the Witness Protection Program (WPP) a day after the two had a meeting at the DoJ headquarters in Manila.
The decision also came after the main suspect, Carmelino Ibañes, retracted his admission of guilt despite evidence and eyewitnesses linking him to the murders.
Carlos, a bank security guard, arrived at his home at North Ridge Royal Subdivision in San Jose del Monte last June 27 only to find his wife, three children and mother-in-law stabbed to death.
“Prior to the execution of his affidavit and its evaluation, and subsequent admission to the WPP, he is already entitled to stay in a safe house, monthly allowance, security protection, hospitalization and medicines, and other privileges,” Aguirre said in a text message.
Aguirre said Carlos also signed a memorandum of agreement before being provided protection, security and benefits under Republic Act (RA) 6981 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.
Under the implementing rules of RA 6981, a person admitted to the WPP must testify about his knowledge of the crime, cooperate with “respect to all reasonable requests” of government officers and employees assigned to protect him, and regularly inform the program official of his activities and address, among other conditions.
Aguirre said Carlos feared for his life. “Yes. But he has not received any specific threats,” the Cabinet official said.
Sack police – VACC
Also on Friday, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) called on Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald de la Rosa to relieve the police officers who handled the investigation and presentation of Bulacan massacre suspect Carmelino Ibañes to the media, claiming their actions had ruined the case.
Dante Jimenez, VACC founding chairman, pointed to the apparent haste of the police officers to present the suspect allegedly responsible for the gruesome killing.
“Obviously there was no due process given to the guy (Ibañes), he reportedly gave his extrajudicial statement without the presence of a lawyer,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez blasted Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police director, and officers of the Bulacan police under Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr.
The VACC chairman also criticized the police officers for allowing the suspect to be interviewed by the media without a lawyer.
Jimenez said police should have allowed Ibañes to be assisted by a lawyer during interviews so that his statements would hold water.
“We are asking the chief PNP to remove those police officers who have committed serious neglect in handling Ibañes, because they are the ones who bungled the case,” Jimenez said.
Caramat and Aquino both said in recent media interviews that Ibañes had admitted to the crime, and was high on drugs and under the influence of alcohol when he committed the killings.
However, four days after the massacre, Ibañes tested negative for illegal drugs.
Aquino in a news conference on June 29 announced that the suspect had confessed and admitted to the crimes and even identified two of his cohorts: “Tony” and “Inggo.”
The VACC on Thursday expressed alarm over the separate killings of two “persons of interest” in the case – Rolando Pacinos or “Inggo” and Rosevelt Merano Sorema or “Ponga.”
“Tony” remains missing.
“We are now studying filing a formal complaint against the investigators of the massacre for bungling the case. That is practically reckless imprudence,” Jimenez said.
Caramat has formed a team of investigators to probe the deaths of Pacinos and Sorema.
Retraction shrugged off
Bulacan police officials shrugged off the reported retraction of Ibañes, a construction worker.
Supt. Fitz Macariola, San Jose del Monte police chief, told reporters they would instead use eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence to pin down Ibañes.
Ibañes, alias “Miling,” on Thursday made a complete turnaround on his earlier testimony that he stabbed to death Estrella Dizon Carlos, 35; children Donny, 11; Ella, 7; and one-year-old Dexter Carlos Jr.; as well as Auring Dizon, 58, Estrella’s mother.
The police do not believe Ibañes was coached by anyone to recant.
“He keeps on changing his story…On our part, we wanted to be transparent that’s why we allowed him to be interviewed by the media,” Macariola said.
On Thursday, Ibañes told television reporters the police had tortured him by putting a plastic bag on his head and hammering his fingers.
However, he failed to show proof of torture or results of medical examinations.
Macariola said: “We are still awaiting the results of the forensic tests. We will rely on the findings of the crime laboratory and our eyewitness. Let the police do their work. We want an airtight case filed against him (Ibañes) so that justice will be serve to the family and relatives of the victims.”
The PNP Crime Laboratory will release the results of its forensic tests within 15 days, Bulacan police said.
with JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND FREDERICK SILVERIO