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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, April 18, 2013
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Murder raps filed vs.
Yap, 8 others before prosecutor

Murder and frustrated murder complaints were filed against Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap Jr. and eight others yesterday before the Escalate City Prosecutor, lawyer Luke Espiritu said.

Others named in the complaints were Arthur Tupas, Angel Binadjan, Juanito Gregorio, Rolando Catayas, Domingo Catipunan, Joel Villarin, Joel Tlomo and Richard Patpat, he said.

They allegedly took part in three murders and three frustrated murders in Escalante City from 2007 to the present, Espiritu said.

The complaints were for the murder of Armando and Joseph Lutrago, and Ferjun Demalerio , and the frustrated murder of Fernando Demalerio , Roger Agaton and Valentino Pabon, he added.

The complainants were Teresita and Fernando Demalerio, Roger Agaton, Valentino Pabon, Russel Lutrago and Judelyn Lutrago, Espiritu said.

At a press conference yesterday, Arnel Ambid of the Save Negros Movement said that, since 2007, there have been 28 extra-judicial killings in Escalante, with most of the victims being supporters of mayoral candidate Santiago Barcelona.

Espiritu said systemic killings in Escalante has created an atmosphere of fear.

Also present at the press conference, aside from Espiritu and Ambid, were relatives of murder and frustrated murder victims in Escalante City, Anthony Garcia of the Partido Lakas ng Masa and Helen Lamayo of Sanlakas.

The relatives of the victims of the killings reiterated their call for President Benigno Aquino and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to act on the killings in Escalante and give the victims justice.

Joy Pabon, whose husband survived having been shot on the chest, said they do not believe the New People's Army was responsible for the killings as claimed.

The NPA members would not kill ordinary people for no reason at all, she said.

Yap welcomed the charges so that he can clear his name in the proper forum. At the same time, Yap also said he will file counter-charges against those fabricating accusations against him.

Lawyer Dan Pondevilla questioned the motive for the filing of charges against Yap. Why only now, when the election is about to happen?” he asked. *CPG



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