BINALBAGAN – Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) yesterday denied rumors that he is intervening in the complaint filed against Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., his son, Ilog Mayor John Paul Alvarez, Cauayan Vice Mayor Jerry Tabujara and seven others for the murder of Kabankalan Judge Henry Arles before the Department of Justice.
Arles was gunned down in Ilog town in April last year.
There have been rumors circulating that Benitez, who has declared his support for Alvarez's gubernatorial bid, has been trying to stop the DOJ from filling the information in court after an assistant state prosecutor had allegedly found probable cause against the respondents in a resolution made in December.
The vice governor and all the respondents have vehemently denied involvement in the murder, and the DOJ has yet to release the findings of its assistant state prosecutor.
Benitez, who heads the Liberal Party in Negros Occidental, and is a close ally of the president, said in an interview at the birthday celebration of Rep. Alejandro Mirasol (Neg. Occ., 5 th District) yesterday, that insinuations that he is intervening in the Arles case are “totally false”.
Benitez said he does not know anyone at the DOJ, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima does not know him.
He does not know why he is being dragged into the matter, “Maybe they are paranoid, if there is no case, they start blaming other people,” Benitez said.
Meanwhile, Eddie Fortunado, one of the six Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade members, who are among the respondents in the Arles murder compliant, yesterday voluntarily surrendered before Bacolod Regional Trial Court Judge Manuel Cardinal Jr.
This was after his lawyer, Romeo Subaldo, informed him that an order for his arrest had been issued for illegal possession of live ammunition.
Fortunado, together with Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates vice chairperson Alan Gozon, went to the sala of Cardinal yesterday afternoon and posted the P80,000 bail bond for his provisional liberty.
The bail bond posted by Fortunado was guaranteed by the Philippine Phoenix Surety and Insurance Co., and was facilitated by NAHRA, which paid the surety company P20,000, Gozon said.
After finding the necessary documents in order and the bond to be sufficient, Cardinal ordered the immediate release of the accused and set the arraignment of the case on February 5, Gozon added.
Gozon added that Fortunado went to the court without hesitation as he maintains that he is innocent of the case filed against him.
Lawyer Frank Britanico, brother-in-law of Arles, said it is not surprising that Fortunado has posted bail.
“Not only is that a matter of right, but a matter of means as well. It shows that Fortunado has good funding...Being a servant to a wealthy master is obvious in this case,” Britanico said.
He said they have uncovered a plot to ambush sixth district congressional candidate Philip Arles in Kabankalan on January 10, but it failed to materialize because of the presence of his supporters and a military unit that happened to be in the area.*CPG