MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals(CA) has paved the way for the rearrest of Buguey, Cagayan Mayor Licerio Antiporda III as it affirmed his conviction for triple homicide.
In a 28-page decision promulgated on January 17, the appellate court's Ninth Division affirmed a Manila trial court ruling that sentenced Antiporda to a maximum 44-year imprisonment and P50,000 indemnity to each of the families of victims Edwin Cusit, Johnny Alonzo, and Ben Magguddayao who were slain on a bloody election day in Buguey on May 8, 1995.
Antiporda’s bailbond, which granted him temporary liberty, was cancelled in the decision penned by Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon.
In junking Antiporda’s appeal of his conviction, the appellate court said that none of the three established exceptions in the findings of a trial court were “present to warrant a reversal” of the trial court's decision.
The appellate court held that the affidavits of desistance executed by the witnesses and private complainants submitted by Antiporda in his motion for a new trial in February 2006, “deserve[d] scant attention” because the Supreme Court itself does give credence to such documents made “after conviction of the accused.”
The case spanned nearly 12 years with 17 justices of the CA inhibiting from the case for "personal reasons."
On Feb. 4, 2000, Manila trial court Judge Teresa Soriaso found Antiporda guilty for the deaths of Cusit, Alonzo, and Magguddayao, and the attempted murder of Jimmy de Guzman.
The appellate court ruled that Antiporda was guilty of attempted homicide, and not attempted murder, in the case of de Guzman.
Hours before the victims were slain, seven political supporters of Antiporda’s father, then Buguey re-electionist Mayor Licerio Antiporda, Jr., were “summarily executed.”
Antiporda’s co-accused, then San Isidro barangay captain Reynaldo Tabilas, died in 1998. Lawyer Franklin Tamargo, who ran and lost against the older Antiporda, was also implicated and subsequently indicted.
Cusit, Alonzo, Magguddayao and a certain Jimmy de Guzman, who was injured in the incident, were all political supporters of Tamargo.
Antiporda, who at that time was 22 and president of the Sangguniang Kabataan, was the heir-apparent of his father.
Antiporda was the only one tried and convicted by the trial court. Witnesses positively identified him as one of those who shot and killed the victims.
The witnesses and private complainants, nearly 10 of them, executed recantations and affidavits of desistance after Tamargo had died claiming Tamargo supposedly coerced them into implicating Antiporda in the killings.
The appellate court, however, held that such recantations do not impair the witnesses’ original testimonies if these had been found to be credible by the court.