• Negros lawmaker cleared of murder

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    BACOLOD CITY: A Regional Trial Court (RTC) in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental has dismissed three murder cases and one frustrated murder case filed against Rep. Melecio Yap (1st District) for lack of probable cause.

    Escalante City Prosecutor Ranela de la Fuente said RTC Branch 57 Judge Danilo Amisola ruled on four of the five cases even before a hearing on their opposition to the motion for judicial determination of probable cause was held.

    The cases stemmed from alleged extrajudicial killings of the supporters of former Escalante City Mayor Santiago Barcelona, Yap’s political opponent.

    In Criminal Case RTC 17-6301, Yap was charged with Bernardino Patigas and Richard Patpat for the fatal shooting of Ferjun Damalerio on November 8, 2007.

    In Case No. RTC 17-6302 Yap, Patigas, Gregory Lobaton Tuayon, Hernando and Joey Lollorente, alias Renan and Bam-Bam, and Eleazar Nava were charged for the murder of Jury Alsado Sr. on January 13, 2008.

    Charged along with Yap in Criminal Case No. RTC17-6304 were Patigas, Joel Villarin, Tuayon, Jay Vargas and Llorente, alias Bob Soler and Jr. Buhat, for the fatal shooting of Armando Lutrago on December 3, 2011.

    In Criminal Case RTC 17-6300, Yap was charged with frustrated murder along with Patigas and Patpat for the shooting of Fernando Demalerio on November 8, 2007.

    No bail was recommended for the murder cases approved for filing by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales against Yap but his arrest was not ordered after Yap’s lawyer, Ariel Malunes, filed motions for judicial determination of probable cause.

    It was not known if a ruling had been reached on Criminal Case RTC 17-6303 wherein Yap, Tuayon, Llorente, Rolando Llamata and Lorenzo Perolino were charged for the murder of Eric Matugas who was shot several times on July 25, 2010.

    Malunes told The Manila Times that he has not yet read the decision.

    The complainants’ lawyer, Renecio Espiritu Jr., said they will file an administrative case against Judge Amisola.

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