A driver and a pond aide found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the murder of a businessman during an ambush in Barangay Batu-an, San Enrique town, Negros Occidental, 12 years ago were sentenced yesterday to 40 years imprisonment each.
Bago Regional Trial Court Judge Frances Guanzon sentenced Dante Juanga, alias Jingle and Lorenzo Juanga, and George Udtuhan to reclusion perpetua and to pay the family of the deceased, Dencio Moncera Tan, P50,000 as indemnity for his death and P100,000 as moral damages.
Their transfer to the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City for the service of their sentence was also ordered.
At the same time, the judge issued an alias warrant for the arrest of Denji Moncera Tan, who allegedly masterminded and took part in the killing of his brother. The case against Denji Tan will be archived and revived upon his arrest, the judge said in her 17-page decision.
Jorey Catublas, one of the accused who turned state witness, said he was a security guard of the Acme Security Agency in Bacolod City and was assigned to the fishpond owned by the Tan family in Tay-tay, Banawag, San Enrique.
He said a plot to ambush Dencio Tan was hatched on April 26, 1999 by his brother Denji Tan at the house of their mother, Ana Moncera Tan, in San Enrique town.
Catublas said he, Denji Tan, Udtuhan and Juanga were at the ambush site at about 7:30 a.m. on April 29, 1999 when the vehicle driven by Dencio Tan with his two children on board arrived. However, Dencio’s two children got down and went home on board a tricycle because the younger one asked for milk, he said.
After a while, Catublas said he heard gunfire and saw Denji Tan firing an M-16 armalite rifle at Dencio Tan.
Juanga also shot Dencio with a shotgun with Udtuhan also shooting him, Catublas said.
After that, Denji Tan ordered Juanga and Udtuhan to load the body of Dencio Tan into his Toyota Hilux that he then drove to D’Hacienda Motel in Bacolod City, parked it in Room 12 and left, Catublas said.
Catublas said he heard the following day that the police had recovered the cadaver of Dencio Tan and he surrendered to the San Enrique police.
An autopsy report showed that Dencio Tan sustained 14 wounds, consisting of two blasting wounds and 12 shotgun wounds.
A police investigation report said the motive for the killing was due to a family feud over the ownership of a 30-hectare fishpond at Banawag, San Enrique.
Juanga, who said he was a former member of a Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit and a pond aide at the Tan fishpond, claimed he was in Bulacan at the time of the killing.
Udtuhan, who said he had been a driver of the mother of the deceased, claimed he was in Bayawan City at the time of the killing.
But the judge said alibi is an inherently weak defense because it is easy to fabricate and is highly unreliable.
The defense failed to show the court that Catublas was motivated by ill will when he pointed to the accused as the assailants of the deceased, the judge said.
In fact he immediately surrendered to the San Enrique police the day after because he was bothered by his conscience, the judge noted.*CPG