MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the filing of frustrated murder charges against former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula in connection with the failed slay attempt against one of its deputies.
The DOJ also found probable cause against 12 others.
“Thirteen individuals are being recommended for preliminary investigation for the crime of frustrated murder,” said DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima.
Investigators earlier alleged Gatdula had a hand in the failed ambush on NBI Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda.
They claimed this was related to Gatdula’s sacking as NBI chief over the kidnapping of Japanese national Noriyo Ohara.
Also included in the charge sheet was businessman Tyrone Ong, who is involved in producing NBI clearances.
Investigators are also looking at the NBI’s over P100 million unpaid debt to Ong’s company as a possible motive.
The NBI believes that Ong’s bodyguard Perfecto Villanueva, who is also facing charges, can shed light on the ambush attempt.
In Villanueva’s statement, he said he heard Ong discuss the ambush on Esmeralda.
“Kaharap po ako minsan na pinag-usapan nila ang pag-ambush kay deputy Dir. Esmeralda at hindi po gagawa ng ganoong bagay si Mr. Ong nang ‘di alam ni Dir. Gatdula dahil si Gatdula po ang nasusunod at nagbibigay ng lakas ng loob kay Mr. Ong na gumawa ng ganoong bagay,” said Villanueva.
Villanueva, the alleged gunman Teodoro Abendano, and 5 others are in the custody of the NBI.
Gatdula’s lawyer Abraham Espejo, meanwhile, expressed worry that evidence against his client may have been tampered.
“This is a violation of the previous writ of amparo which a court has issued. Ang masaklap dito, they refused to comply with the court order that allows us to examine all the evidence. Kinakabahan kami na baka dadagdagan o babaguhin ‘yung ebidensya gaya ng medical records, even the ballistic reports,” said Espejo.
“Naaawa ako sa aking kapatid na si Ka Gatdula. Hindi na siya tinantanan. Mananalangin kami ang we will face this before the courts of law,” he added. -- Reports from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; Ricky Velasco, dzMM