MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Revilla clan are asking police to start a new investigation into the murder of Ramgen Bautista.
Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. made the call on Wednesday after 2 of their siblings, Ramon Joseph and Ramona, were tagged in the crime.
Police accused Ramon Joseph of hiring hitmen to kill his brother Ramgen while Ramona allegedly had a hand in the crime.
"Nakikiusap ako na kung maaari, magkaroon ng reinvestigation, siguraduhin natin," the senator said.
He earlier expressed disbelief that his siblings were behind the murder and the attempted killing of Ramgen's girlfriend.
Ramon Joseph's lawyer, Atty. Dennis Manzanal told ANC’s Primetime on Wednesday that police illegally arrested his client.
He said police did not have an arrest warrant when they nabbed Ramon Joseph.
Manzanal explained that courts only issue arrest warrants after police end a preliminary investigation into a case.
He also disputed a police statement saying that Ramon Joseph was arrested as part of a hot pursuit operation.
"Police officers do not have personal knowledge of the commission of the crime. They just relied on the pinpointing of a witness they produced from an area somewhere there in Parañaque," he said.
"We have experienced several things like these happen, especially when the police are so eager to score some points with the public," Manzanal said, citing several controversial cases when suspects were set free by courts because of lack of evidence.
"In the eagerness of the police to picture themselves as competent, they are violating constitutional rights of the accused," the lawyer said.
Manzanal said Ramon Joseph was stunned by the turn of events.
"He was shocked. He lost a brother and now all the world is against him," Manzanal said.
He added that Ramon Joseph did not attend the burial of his brother Wednesday. "He just turned 18... very soft spoken. I can’t understand why the circumstances, especially submitted by police, point to him as the mastermind of this gruesome killing."
The lawyer told Ramon Joseph, who is in police custody, to exercise his right to remain silent.
"Iyung bata medyo shocked sa nangyari. Imagine the trauma of having witnessed a brother slaughtered. At the end of the day, ikaw pa may kasalanan at tinutugis ng batas," he said.
Manzanal said Ramona, whom police also tried to arrest, is not hiding.
"Mara is not at large and there is no reason for her to hide because there is no warrant of arrest," he said.
"Walang valid na arrest na dapat gawin ang PNP," the lawyer said. "Hindi nila pwedeng gawin ‘yun kay Mara."
He said their immediate concern is having Ramon Joseph released by police.
Manzanal said they are also planning to file charges against "certain individuals" behind Ramon Joseph's "illegal arrest."
Dispute over P1-million allowance?
Chief Inspector Enrique Sy, head of Task Force Ramgen, said a witness in the case cited the cause of the crime as a dispute regarding the siblings' "budget."
Portia Ilagan, spokesperson of the Revilla clan, said she is not aware of any sibling rivalry among the children of former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr.
"They gave him [Ramgen] their own estate in Eternal Garden. Almost all siblings were at the wake of their brother everyday. If that is not closeness and acceptance, I think there can be no other show of how close they are even in blood," she told ANC.
Ilagan said Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla is willing to help his 8 siblings that his father sired Genalyn Magsaysay.
Ilagan has revealed that the Revilla patriarch fathered 72 children to 16 different women.
She said she is not aware of the exact amount that the Revilla patriarch gives to his children as financial support.
"I'm pretty sure they get a monthly allowance, her [Magsaysay] children go to an international school. Meron siguradong may binibigay sa kanila. As to how much, I'm not privy to that amount," she said, in response to reports that each specific brood gets P1 million monthly that would be divided among the siblings.
Case filed vs Ramgen's siblings, 5 others
Sy, meanwhile, said Ramon Joseph, Ramona, and 5 others have been charged with murder for the crime.
Police have arrested 2 other suspects, Michael Cruz Altia and Roy Francis Tolisora, the alleged hired killers who reportedly wore Halloween masks in killing Ramgen. Three other suspects remain at large.
"Naka-file na ang kaso sa piskalya. Nasa preliminary investigation kaya hihintaying na lang ang resulta at kung may probable cause, ang korte ang mag-iisue ng warrant at kung may warrant na kami, ise-send sa respondents o accused," Sy said, in reply to a question if Ramona faces arrest.
He said police can't arrest Ramona until a warrant is issued by the court. "We are barred by the preliminary investigation being conducted by the prosecutors."