The Department of Justice has dismissed the charges filed against Negros Occidental Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., his son Ilog Mayor John Paul Alvarez and Cauayan Vice Mayor Jerry Tabujara for the murder of Kabankalan Judge Henry Arles for “insufficiency of evidence”, but recommended the filing of a case against seven others.
“We are vindicated… I have said from the start that we had nothing to do with the murder of the judge,” the vice governor said at a press conference called late yesterday afternoon at his house in Bacolod City to announce the DOJ decision.
The vice governor, who is running for governor of Negros Occidental, said he hopes the decision will clear his name and that of his son since, for months, they have been unfairly accused through the media of being criminals.
“This case has been politically motivated, it came out when my father’s name came up a probable candidate for governor…It was intentionally done to destroy our name,” Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th Distirct) charged.
The dismissal of the charges against the three was granted without prejudice to the refiling of the same should additional evidence be obtained against the respondents, the 16-page resolution penned by Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano on Nov. 19, 2012 and approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano said.
The same resolution recommended the filing of charges against Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade members Marvin Salve, Gerald Tabujara, Rustom Puro, Alejandro Capunong, Jessie Daguia and Eddie Fortunado, and Ilog government employee Emmanuel Medes for the murder of the judge.
Arles was killed in Barangay Manalad, Ilog, while on his way home at about 6:30 pm. on April 24, 2012.
The complainants may not have presented detailed evidence to show the presence of conspiracy and the extent of the liability of Medes, Salve, Puro, Daguia, Capunong, Tabujara and Fortunado but they were able to present enough proof to establish that the respondents acted in unison to commit the crime, the resolution said.
This is enough to establish probable cause to indict them and hold them for trial, it added.
However, with respect to the participation of the vice governor, mayor and vice mayor there is not enough evidence to establish probable cause for their indictment, the resolution said.
“Although it can be concluded that the killing of Judge Arles is well planned, its carrying out and execution has been precise and successful – typical of a killing with a mastermind,” the investigating prosecutor is duty bound to make sure that once the case reaches the court for trial, the evidence can stand conviction by the required degree of proof, the resolution said.
It noted that Paul Alvarez was tagged as the mastermind in the killing of the judge by the strength of the testimonies of Capunong, Fortunado and witness Rolyn Baylon.
However, the mayor is correct in pointing out that the extra-judicial confessions of respondents Capunong and Fortunado are inadmissible as evidence, the resolution said.
Records show that the vice governor, mayor and vice mayor were all implicated in the killing of Arles because of the statements of Baylon in her affidavit.
However, her testimony was not corroborated by any other witnesses and her allegations were all based on what she said respondent Puro told her, the resolution said.
Bluntly she has no personal knowledge about the crime. Thus, her declarations against the three public officials which are not corroborated should not be given credence, the resolution added.
“It is clear that the complainant failed to prove conspiracy among all the respondents named in the complaint,” it said
The vice governor was accompanied by Rep. Alvarez, Paul Alvarez and lawyer Danny Pondevilla at the press conference.
Rep. Alvarez said they were informed by their Manila lawyers of the resolution dismissing the murder complaint yesterday afternoon.
“This is good news for our family…we are very thankful and very blessed. Ever since we have said there was no truth to the complaint filed against my father and brother,” she said.
It has been hurtful for members of her family to be called murderers, she said.
It is a birthday gift to her brother, Paul, who celebrated his birthday on May 4, she said.
After this they should find out who really had the judge killed, the congresswoman said.
The vice governor said he is thankful to God the complaint filed against him has been dismissed.
He said the false charges filed against them had been very hurtful for his family, it has caused them many sleepless nights and nervousness.
But he is a religious man, he does not hold a grudge against those who falsely implicated him, the vice governor said, adding that he leaves the matter to God.
Paul Alvarez said he is very happy with the decision and thankful to those who believed that he could not commit the crime even before the resolution came out.
He said huge rewards offered for the solution of a crime is not good because any one can just be picked up to testify that could lead to the implication of innocent people.
It is the job of law enforcers to find the real culprits, he said.
The mayor also said Medes, an employee of the Ilog town government, who has been included among those who should be charged for the murder of the judge, is innocent.
Pondevilla, one of the Alvarez lawyers, said the Arles family can still file a motion for reconsideration to the DOJ resolution or an appeal to the Office of the President through the executive secretary.
“They still have a remedy,” but they do not have the evidence to implicate the vice governor, mayor and vice mayor, he said.*CPG