The wife of slain Trece Martires, Cavite Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan has hit allegations raised by Mayor Melandres de Sagun over the killing of the vice mayor and his aide in July 2018.
“The insinuation that I was responsible for my husband’s death is laughable at best,” Gemma Lubigan said in her 13-page reply-affidavit, which she filed before the Department of Justice panel of prosecutors on Monday.
De Sagun, who is facing complaints for 2 counts of murder and 1 count of frustrated murder, had tried to cast doubt on Lubigan’s wife in his counter-affidavit he earlier filed with the DOJ.
“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.
Speaking to reporters after the preliminary investigation, Gemma refuted De Sagun’s insinuations.
“Wala na silang maidahilan. Hindi na nila mabigyan ng katwiran yung pagpatay sa aking asawa. Yun na lang nakikita kong dahilan, na lahat na lang na pwedeng sabihin nating walang kakwenta-kwentang dahilan, yun na lang sasabihin nila,” she said.
(They have ran out of excuses. The could not provide a reason for killing my husband. That is the only reason I could think of why of the many nonsense things they can say, they said that.)
Gemma said that while she and her husband were together at the gym, they were meant to leave separately since they brought different cars. She denied she knew beforehand what would happen to her husband.
“Kahit saan po tingnang anggulo, sino po yung walang pusong asawa na alam na may mangyayari sa asawa niya, pababayaan pa rin na may mangyari? Hindi ho tama yung ganung isipin,” she added.
(What kind of heartless wife, knowing what will happen to her husband, would still let it happen? It's incorrect to think that.)
Gemma also said De Sagun’s claim that he had nothing to gain with Lubigan’s death was an "outrageous lie."
In her reply-affidavit, Gemma said: “The death of Vice Mayor Lubigan eliminated the top seeded Mayoralty candidate. The rise of popularity and public clamor for the late Vice Mayor served as a threat in the power held so long by the De Sagun clan. Although Respondent Mayor would not run for office considering it is his last term, his father Jun de Sagun would take his place as a candidate for the next election.”
“My husband’s death strengthened their family’s position to the top post of the city of Trece Martires. Effectively removing an opponent for next year’s elections is a clear motive to slay my husband,” she added.
Gemma told reporters she is not exploiting her husband’s death to further her candidacy, as de Sagun alleged.
“[H]indi po totoo ‘yun. Nagkataon lang po na si Vice ay may naiwang laban na kailangan kong ipagpatuloy. Kaya ako po yung humahalili sa kanya ngayon. So hindi ko po ginagamit ‘yung pagkakataon,” she said, adding that it is common knowledge in Trece Martires that de Sagun’s wife Aiza was supposed to run as the third candidate for mayor.
(That is not true. The Vice Mayor simply had a fight I have to continue that's why I had to run in his place. I am not just using this opportunity.)
In her reply-affidavit, Gemma insisted there was probable cause to charge de Sagun and 4 others with 2 counts of murder and 1 count of frustrated murder.
She said Romeo Endrinal, Lubigan’s aide who survived the shooting, “personally saw” and “positively identified” the alleged gunman, Ariel Paiton, who shot to death Lubigan and another aide Romulo Guillemer. Endrinal himself, suffered life-threatening injuries.
She also cited the testimony of Alex Paiton, brother of the alleged gunman, who said that his brother admitted to him his involvement and tagged de Sagun as the mastermind. He also claimed another suspect, Maragondon, Cavite councilor Lawrence Arca helped conceal the crime by disposing of the getaway vehicle.
Also named as respondents were Luis Abad, Jr., the alleged driver of the getaway vehicle and Rhonel Bersmina, who allegedly received the money from the sale of the vehicle on behalf of Arca.
De Sagun had rejected Alex Paiton’s testimony for being hearsay.
The rules on evidence require that a witness can only testify as to those facts within his/her personal knowledge, except in certain circumstances.
Gemma however said hearsay statements can still be considered in determining probable cause during preliminary investigation.
“Hearsay evidence is admissible in determining probable cause in a preliminary investigation because such investigation is merely preliminary, and does not finally adjudicate rights and obligations of parties,” she said, citing a Supreme Court decision.
Her lawyer, Raymond Fortun, told reporters after the preliminary investigation that there’s sufficient basis to link de Sagun to the murders because the gunman had been identified as the mayor’s bodyguard, a claim not denied by the mayor in his counter-affidavit.
“That is more than enough link. Kasi kung ikaw ay bodyguard ng isang tao, obvious na meron talagang koneksyon. Hindi pupwede na ang isang bodyguard ay gagawa ng isang krimen kung hindi ito inutusan ng kung sino ‘yung kanyang pinagsisilbihan,” Fortun said.
(That is more than enough link. Because if you are the bodyguard of a person, it would be obvious that you two have a connection. A bodyguard would not do a crime if not ordered by his master.)
To prove Arca’s involvement, Gemma attached the affidavits of 3 witnesses.
Henry Dino, a former member of the Philippine Marines, said he was instructed by Arca to turn over the vehicle, a black Toyota Hi-Lux, to Maragondon, Cavite municipal councilor Joel Angue.
Angue testified Arca called to ask him for a temporary parking space for the vehicle.
Henry Ellaga meanwhile said he saw the vehicle parked in front of the house of the alleged gunman.
All three witnesses said they would later learn about the getaway vehicle from news reports.
The lawyers for the respondents objected to the testimonies of the three, saying these were not submitted along with the complaint-affidavit when these had been executed on September 18, 2018, before the start of the DOJ probe.
“If the affidavits were withheld from us, it will affect our defense. We were blindsided by the prosecution,” de Sagun’s lawyer, Lopensky Fernandez told the DOJ panel.
In their defense, Fortun said it was not his clients but the PNP who filed the complaint and who failed to attach the affidavits of the three witnesses.
In any case, he said the respondents will have the opportunity to address the claims of the 3 witnesses.
The DOJ panel of prosecutors headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon allowed the lawyers for respondents to file their objections to the affidavits in writing.
Respondents were also given a longer period or until November 26, 2018, 1:30 p.m. to submit their rejoinder-affidavits.