Mayor tagged in Trece Martires vice mayor's slay seeks more time to answer charges

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2018 04:37 PM

MANILA - The camp of Trece Martires, Cavite Mayor Melandres de Sagun has asked for more time to file his counter-affidavit in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) probe into the killing of Trece Martires Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan.

Lubigan, along with his driver Romulo Guillemer, were inside his
sports utility vehicle when they were gunned down by
unidentified gunmen on board another SUV in July 2018. Lubigan’s two other aides survived the attack.

The Cavite Police filed two counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder charges against De Sagun, who was identified by one witness as the alleged mastermind. 

Lubigan’s relatives said the vice mayor, who was on his third term, intended to run for mayor in next year’s elections, pitting him against the incumbent mayor’s wife.

De Sagun’s co-respondents include the alleged gunman Ariel Paiton; Luis Abad, Jr., the alleged driver of the getaway vehicle; Maragondon, Cavite municipal councilor Lawrence Arca, who allegedly sold the vehicle; and Rhonel Bersamina, who allegedly received money on Arca's behalf.

De Sagun did not attend Friday’s preliminary investigation.

Instead, his counsel Alexander Nala asked for additional time to file his client’s counter-affidavit, saying he needed more time to gather witnesses. He said he was only engaged as counsel on October 9, 2018.

Arca and Bersamina showed up without their lawyer but were granted, along with De Sagun, until the next hearing on October 26 to submit their counter-affidavits.

The DOJ panel will issue a subpoena to Paiton and Abad, who did not attend the hearing.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon, head of the DOJ panel, said that should respondents fail to file their counter-affidavits on the 26th, the case will be submitted for resolution. 

If they do, complainants will be given time to file their reply to the counter-affidavits.

During the preliminary investigation, complainants were represented by lawyer Raymond Fortun. Two of the three complainants, the wives of Lubigan and Guillemer, were not present.

One of the complainants, Lubigan’s aide Romeo Endrinal, subscribed to his sworn affidavit before the DOJ panel. He is still unable to speak as a tube remains attached to his nose as he continues to recover from wounds he sustained in the shooting. 

Lubigan’s death happened just days after Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili was shot dead during a flag-raising ceremony in Batangas and General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote was shot up close by a gunman in Nueva Ecija.