Batangas mayor, 9 others face double murder charges

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 26 2014 09:28 AM | Updated as of Jul 26 2014 05:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The incumbent mayor of Laurel town in Batangas and nine others, including three policemen, are facing criminal charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the killing of a barangay chairman and his wife last February.

Mayor Randy James Amo and his fellow respondents were charged with double murder and frustrated double murder for the deaths of Nestor Rodriguez and his wife Rosalina, an elementary school principal, and the wounding of two brothers when a grenade was lobbed at their vehicle.

Amo did not appear in the preliminary investigation at the DOJ last Tuesday. His lawyers asked for more time to answer the charges and submit a counter-affidavit.

The investigating prosecutors granted Amo’s request and gave him until Aug. 5 to answer the criminal complaint filed by Rhonie Richard Rodriguez, son of the slain couple.

A witness, a certain Robert Landicho, has tagged Amo as the mastermind, according to the investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Team of the Batangas police.

The other respondents are PO2 Rolando Rodriguez Jr., PO3 Michael Rebato, and PO3 Danilo Salvatierra Jr., all Laurel policemen; Benjamin Landicho, Reynold Amo, Montano Genil, Mark Amo, Rolando Rodriguez Sr., and Rene Talay.

Along with brothers Jimmy and Maximo Sarmiento, the Rodriguez couple had just come from Amo’s house when two motorcycle-riding men hurled a grenade at their vehicle at around 11 p.m. last Feb. 28.

The Sarmiento brothers survived the attack but their legs had to be amputated.

According to the charge sheet, the accounts of Landicho and eyewitness Rhonie Richard Rodriguez showed that it was “Mark Amo who was driving the motorcycle and PO2 Rolando Rodriguez was the back-rider (and was the one who) tossed the grenade” at the Rodriguezes’ vehicle.

Probers linked the killing to the loss of PO2 Rodriguez’s father Rolando Sr., a close ally of Amo, in the October 2013 barangay elections.

In sworn statements, the witnesses alleged seeing Amo and the elder Rodriguez together after the grenade explosion, and overhearing the mayor as supposedly saying, “Mayroon pang isang taong nawawala, hanapin ninyo at patayin na rin (Another one is missing, look for him and kill him, too).”