ACTING DOJ CHIEF CALIDA REVERSES DECISION ON IRIGA MAYOR'S CASE

MANILA, December 12, 2003  (STAR)  By Aurea Calica - Reversing an earlier decision by a panel of state prosecutors, acting Justice Secretary Jose Calida has ordered the filing of triple murder charges against Iriga City Mayor Emmanuel Alfelor and seven other people.

"We found probable cause based on the evidence. I decide things based on the evidence, and not whether this man is powerful or what. I believe thatís how it should be done, decide cases based on merits," said Calida, the acting secretary for six days until tomorrow.

In an earlier decision, state prosecutors dismissed for lack of evidence the case filed last March by the National Bureau of Investigation against Alfelor, Iriga City administrator Aldo Turiano and his wife Rita, Jessie Intia, SPO1 Armando Padi, the mayorís farm manager Bong Gazmen, security guard Santiago Tampoco and Richard Narciso.

In a 13-page resolution dated July 29, the panel said the liability of Alfelor and the seven other accused "cannot be established on the mere basis of an allegation."

It disregarded the testimony of Alfelorís wife, Madeleine, because court rules prohibit spouses from testifying against each other.

The case involves the killing of Department of Trade and Industry district officer Reynaldo Licup, his driver Geoffrey Remodo and car mechanic Rommel Barillos in Baao, Camarines Sur on Dec. 2, 2002. They were shot dead inside a videoke bar.

A witness, Eduardo Villanueva, tagged Intia as the gunman. He later flip-flopped, first recanting his testimony but later saying he was ready to testify against Alfelor and the other accused.

Calida, however, stood by his move. "Iím not afraid to make a decision no matter who gets hurt," he said.

Last February, Calida presented Madeleine to the media after she sought his help in filing charges of physical and sexual abuse against Alfelor, her husband of 22 years.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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