Time is up for the accused in Gino Basas murder case

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TOOTS OPLE

“DO you want to see a cockatoo? Amazing, amazing!” A fun-loving and dorky Abigail Gino Basas, skinny, tall and full of life, kept pointing out objects and animals and people in a zoo, before a handheld camera. “Do you want to see a unicorn?” He romped around the zoo, pointed at stuffed animals, and then to an ice cream vendor who happened to pass by. “Amazing!” Gino Basas would then exclaim. It was a funny video uploaded on YouTube that captured this young man’s zest for life.

Agapito and Gina Basas are left with this YouTube video as part of Gino’s treasure trove of bittersweet memories. He was only 28 years old when five male college students mauled and murdered him outside a bar in Quezon City.

Ordered arrested by the Quezon City RTC Branch No. 88 based on the warrants of arrest issued by Judge Rosanna Fe Romero Maglaya, were: Mohammad Taher Piti-ilan, Jameel Benito, Mark Angelo Morata, Cyril Angelo Rada and Earl Bryan Grande.

What triggered the mauling? A video footage obtained by the Quezon City police and the media revealed an intoxicated Gino moving past Mohammad Taher Piti-ilan and brushing against the latter’s elbow. Irked, the student went to his group of friends to complain. They followed Piti-ilan in looking for Gino who was already a few steps outside the bar. It was Piti-ilan who threw the first punch while Gino was walking away. The victim fell to the ground and suffered more blows than his skinny frame could handle from the gang of five.

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Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Gibson Araula Jr., in his resolution dated August 8, noted that Abigail Gino Basas never had the chance to defend himself. He observed that the suspects acted together in beating the victim that resulted in his death.

Spocky Farolan who served as the pro-bono lawyer for the Basas family at the request of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, stressed that the crime of murder is a non-bailable offense. “The QC Regional Trial Court has issued warrants of arrest against the accused. As murder is a capital offense, the accused cannot avail of bail as a matter of right. They would need to show that evidence of guilt against them is weak. Given the CCTV footages and the testimonies of some of the accused themselves, grant of bail would not be likely. The accused are now at large and in hiding. Any information that could lead to their arrest would be greatly appreciated.”

Who was Gino Basas? He was an OFW and a talented photographer working for an Australian cruise ship. Gino was out celebrating with his friends at the Quezon City bar when the incident happened. He had just completed his first six-month contract and was due for renewal. As a photographer, he gained positive reviews from foreign passengers who had invested in weeks of sea-based, sun-kissed fun.

Gino’s father, Agapito, described his son as a good person, kind to his friends and cousins, and a goofball. He played music with a band, rode his skateboard with friends, and was into graffiti art. It was in photography that he found his true calling. The young man had only begun mustering enough confidence to dream about a seafarer’s career, which can be a profitable haven for young achievers. He loved his job. He loved traveling to places and mingling with people from different countries. The future was before him and it was bright until March of this year.

All it took was for his shoulder to brush against a complete stranger in a bar that could have done a better job of preventing such altercations.

All it took was for a hotheaded, intoxicated young man with friends only too happy to do his bidding to run after Gino Basas and beat the life out of him.

All it needs now is for Gino’s assailants to surrender and undergo arraignment for the trial to begin. This may be easier said than done. According to sources, one of the five accused is hiding in Mindanao while the rest are nowhere to be found. Gino’s parents are appealing to the public to report to the nearest police precinct the whereabouts of Mohammad Taher Piti-ilan, Jameel Benito, Mark Angelo Morata, Cyril Angelo Rada and Earl Bryan Grande.

“I promised Gino that I will not stop until his murderers are arrested,” Gino’s father said. To have your only child taken from you, at a time when portals of the world were opening up for him, is pain beyond words. We pray for Gino. We pray for his grieving family. We also pray that those who have been accused of murder find the courage to face the court, air their side, and let justice take its course.

This will be the first Christmas in the Basa household without Gino. “Amazing!” — he would have exclaimed about his next cruise ship adventure. With him forever gone, the biggest gift his parents want is for justice to be served, so that they can finally find peace and move on.

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