MANILA - Family and colleagues of slain Ako Bicol party-list representative Rodel Batocabe on Saturday hit a Legazpi court’s reported bail grant on an ex-mayor tagged as mastermind behind the lawmaker’s killing.
"Pinaghalu-halong galit, panlulumo, at pagkagimbal ang nararamdaman ngayon ng aming pamilya sa kautusan ng Legazpi City RTC (Regional Trial Court) Branch 10 na palayain si Carl "Awin" Baldo," said Batocabe's son Justin Batocabe.
(The family feels a mix of anger, disappointment and shock over the order of the Legazpi RTC to release Carl "Awin' Baldo.)
The order granting bail to Baldo, a former Daraga, Albay mayor, was dated Aug. 29. He had surrendered in May.
Batocabe's son said murder charges against Baldo are non-bailable. He and his father's colleagues believe that the court order is an injustice to his memory and a chilling reminder that justice is difficult to obtain, and that crime does pay.
"Non-bailable na nga, malakas at matibay pang ebidensya. Bakit pahihintulutang makalaya ang isang mamamatay tao?" the lawmaker's son said.
(It is non-bailable and there's strong evidence. Why did the court allow the release of a murderer?)
In a separate statement, Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., condemned the order. He said witnesses have pointed to Baldo as the mastermind. Even evidence gathered by police point to him as the brains behind the crime.
"We have put our faith in the system, but such an unjust ruling deserves to be called out. We strongly disagree with the grant of bail and hope that the judge reconsiders her decision so that justice may ultimately prevail," Garbin said.
Batocabe, 52, was planning to challenge reelectionist Baldo for the Daraga mayoralty in the May elections.
The lawmaker was distributing Christmas gifts in Daraga, his hometown, on Dec. 22 when he and his police escort were gunned down by at least 6 assailants.
"Nanawagan po ako sa ating hudikatura, ibalik ang tiwala ng tao sa hustisya. Huwag palayain si Baldo," Atty. Batocabe said.
(I call on the judiciary, restore people's trust in justice. Do not release Baldo.)
Both Baldo and Batocabe's widow Gertie, who ran in his stead, lost the mayoralty race.