Trece Martires mayor denies ordering vice mayor's murder, tags slain official's wife

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2018 04:38 PM | Updated as of Oct 26 2018 05:10 PM

MANILA - The local official tagged in the killing of Trece Martires Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan has denied allegations that he was the mastermind behind the slay. 

In a counter-affidavit filed before the Department of Justice on Friday, Trece Martires Mayor Melandres De Sagun said he had no hand in the July 7 shooting. 

“I am completely innocent of the charge and accusation leveled against me,” the Cavite town mayor said in his counter-affidavit. 

De Sagun is facing complaints for 2 counts of murder and 1 count of frustrated murder over the killing of Lubigan and his driver Romulo Guillemer, and the wounding of another aide in July. 

Lubigan’s relatives said the vice mayor had intended to run for mayor in next year’s elections against De Sagun’s wife.

In his counter-affidavit, De Sagun said he has no reason to order Lubigan's killing because his family will not benefit from it.

“I have no motive whatsoever to have the late Vice Mayor killed. It is the last term of office and I will not run anymore for any position. The death of Vice Mayor will not benefit me or my family, personally or politically,” he said in his 4-page affidavit sworn to before a prosecutor in Muntinlupa City.

“There is simply no motive on my part, even a political motive for it is a political suicide to commit such a horrible crime for it may affect and destroy the reputation of our family,” he explained.

The mayor added that he was not in the country when the incident happened.

The mayor did not appear during the preliminary investigation. His
lawyer Alexander Nala cited security concerns but confirmed that the mayor is back in the country.

De Sagun also questioned the only evidence against him – the testimony of Alex Paiton, brother of alleged gunman Ariel Paiton.

In his affidavit, Paiton said his brother Ariel allegedly admitted that De Sagun ordered him to kill Lubigan. 

But this statement is hearsay and should not be considered as proof, the mayor said. 

The rules on evidence require that a witness can only testify on facts within his or her personal knowledge, except in certain circumstances.

“I vehemently deny the same and this hearsay evidence is very unreliable and untrustworthy and thus devoid of probative value,” he said.

“A witness bereft of personal knowledge of the disputed fact cannot be called upon for that purpose because his testimony derives its value not from the credit accorded to him as a witness presently testifying but from the veracity and competency of the extrajudicial source of his information,” he added.

As part of his answer to the charges, De Sagun submitted affidavits of 3 witnesses: the alleged gunman's daughter and two other siblings.

Ariel Paiton’s daughter Wilma denied that his father admitted committing the crime to Alex. His other siblings Susana and Michael also denied that Ariel threatened to kill Alex for testifying against him.

The alleged gunman was not present and was not represented during the hearing, along with Luis Abad Jr., alleged driver of the getaway vehicle.

Two other respondents, Maragondon, Cavite municipal councilor Lawrence Arca, who allegedly sold the getaway vehicle, and Rhonel Bersamina, who allegedly received the money on behalf of Arca, also submitted their counter-affidavits on Friday.

As he denied involvement in Lubigan's murder, De Sagun tried to cast doubt on the slain vice mayor’s wife.

“And how convenient it is that when the fateful event happened, the better half of the Vice Mayor was opportunely left at the gym because allegedly she was not done yet with her routine. Was she forewarned that something will happen? And now she is running from (sic) office and using this unfortunate incident as a propaganda to further her bid,” he said.

Lubigan’s wife Gemma filed her certificate of candidacy for mayor and is expected to face off with De Sagun’s father, former Mayor Melencio De Sagun Jr. in next year's elections. Aside from the two, Trece Martires Vice Mayor Denver Colorado, who replaced Lubigan, is also running for office.

The panel of prosecutors gave the camp of the complainants until November 5 to file their reply to the counter-affidavits.

Respondents have until November 15 to file their rejoinder.