The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Tuesday found Jason Ivler guilty of murdering the son of a former Malacañang official during a traffic altercation along Santolan Road in Quezon City in November 2009.
Ivler, 28, is the nephew of Philippine folk icon Freddie Aguilar and reportedly had a brief stint in show business in the late 1990s.
The victim, Renato Ebarle Jr., was the son and namesake of the former chief of staff of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Branch 84 Presiding Judge Luisito Cortez sentenced Ivler to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay P9.373 million in damages to the Ebarle family.
Ivler is not eligible for parole.
The court also ordered Ivler’s transfer to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) from the Quezon City Jail Annex in Taguig City (also Metro Manila).
Aguilar, who was present in the promulgation of the case, told reporters that his nephew’s lawyers would appeal the ruling.
“Yun po ang naging desisyon ng judge, igalang natin [That is the decision of the judge, let’s respect it],” he said.
Ivler’s mother–Marlene–was not around during the promulgation.
“Si Marlene naman matatag yun eh, hindi naman nakikinig sa akin yan so alam naman niya siguro ang gagawin niya. Nalulungkot ako, tito lang ako ni Jason eh, lalo na siguro sa nanay [Marlene is a tough woman. She doesn’t listen to me so she probably knows what she’s doing. I’m saddened by the turn of events and I’m just Jason’s uncle, it’s probably more disheartening for the mother],” Aguilar said referring to his sister.
Boy Evangelista, spokesman for the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), welcomed the court’s decision.
“‘We’re happy with this. It’s a victory for our justice system. The proceedings took six years. It will be sending a very strong message,” he told reporters in Filipino.
VACC chairman Martin Diño, however, said the decision is not enough.
“This should have been punishable by death. If only there was a death penalty, he would’ve been meted the capital punishment. He could appeal up to the heavens. He’s already in prison yet he acts like he could flout the law,” a disgusted Diño said in Filipino.
“We should be vigilant how he’ll be treated in prison, if his cell has an air-conditioner. He’s well off. We should all watch out,” he added.
Prosecutors led by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon submitted 58 pieces of evidence against Ivler.
Ivler was arrested two months after the incident in the basement of his mother’s house in the posh Blue Ridge Subdivision in Quezon City.
He was wounded after he attempted to shoot it out with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
His mother, Marlene Aguilar, was also arrested for trying to stop the NBI from arresting him.
Two NBI agents were wounded in the shootout.
Ivler also sustained gunshot wounds in the right shoulder and left abdomen.
He pleaded “not guilty” during his arraignment.
In August 2004, Ivler was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide after he reportedly lost control of his Toyota Land Cruiser and crashed into an Isuzu Trooper, which resulted in the death of Nestor Ponce Jr., then-President Arroyo’s aide.
He jumped bail and allegedly attempted to flee to Malaysia by boat, but he was arrested in Zamboanga City.
He was considered a fugitive after failing to appear in the homicide case hearings that remain pending with a Pasig City (Metro Manila) court.