BACOLOD City – The counsel of five alleged murder suspects in Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB), Negros Occidental denied reports that his clients were arrested on Feb 4, 2019 by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at Barangays Bagong Silang and Bago, all in DSB.
Atty. Ariel Malunes said Armando Remotigue, Joel Condes, Julito Tanoco, Antonio Bularan and Bernie Bantilan “voluntarily surrendered” to authorities, which the CIDG also noted in the return of warrants of arrest to the court dated Feb. 6.
“This is to correct information being circulated in the media, contrary to reports that they were arrested, the accused voluntarily surrendered upon my advice” Malunes said.
The police reported earlier that the five were arrested, “when in fact they voluntarily surrendered on my advice.”
In a statement sent to media on Feb. 11, Malunes said, “by unfairly tagging them as members of an armed group in relation to the killing of Charlie Boli-Boli effectively crucifies them guilty through trial by publicity.”
Boli-boli was gunned down on July 8, 2017, which the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Roselyn Pelle Command claimed in a separate statement.
Two months later, DSB Municipal Councilor Eden Bacordo and his two companions, were also killed by unidentified armed men at Brgy. Lopez Jaena, Murcia, Negros Occidental.
Malune said “it is also totally misleading to call the accused as members of an armed group operating in Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental alleged to be disbanded by their capture.”
Malunes said the accused are ordinary farmers from Bagong Silang and Bago and were only dragged in the case because they are affiliated with Bacordo.
He cited as proof, the report of CIDG-Bacolod City dated Feb 6, 2019 stating that “all accused voluntarily surrendered” at 2:30 in the afternoon of Feb 4.
“Everyone should be reminded that these accused are presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise in the courts of law thus, by unfairly tagging them as members of an armed group in relation to the killing of Charlie Boli-boli effectively crucifies them guilty through ‘trial by publicity’,” Malunes said.
“My clients are innocent of the crime they are charged with and their innocence will be proven during trial. Just as anyone else, the clients are also interested that justice be served for the victim and his surviving family and against the real perpetrators.”