DOJ terminates probe into killing of Trece Martires vice mayor

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2018 04:28 PM

Slain Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan. Photo from his Facebook page

MANILA - The Department of Justice concluded Monday afternoon its probe into the killing of Trece Martires, Cavite Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan.

Primary suspect Trece Martires Mayor Melandres de Sagun was not present but submitted his rejoinder-affidavit through his lawyer. 

De Sagun is facing complaints for 2 counts of murder and 1 count of frustrated murder over the killing of Lubigan and his aide.

Lubigan was gunned down with his driver Romulo Guillemer while inside his sports utility vehicle in Cavite in July 2018. Another aide was seriously wounded.

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

HEARSAY

In his rejoinder-affidavit, De Sagun said there is no direct evidence pointing to him as the perpetrator or as the mastermind who ordered the killing of Lubigan.

He insisted that the only evidence against him is, in fact, hearsay.

“Let me remind the complainant that the only evidence she presented against me is the statement of one Alex Paiton who claimed that his brother told him that I was the one who ordered the killing of Vice Mayor Lubigan. Evidently, this is pure hearsay and has no legal leg to stand on and they in fact explicitly admitted in their reply-affidavit that indeed it is pure hearsay,” he said.

The Lubigan camp had presented the testimony of Alex Paiton, brother of alleged gunman Ariel Paiton.

Alex claimed his brother told him it was De Sagun who ordered Lubigan’s killing.

“The burden of proof rests with the complainant and her hearsay evidence against me is no proof,” the mayor said.

Ariel, the alleged gunman, submitted his counter-affidavit through his lawyer on Monday denying he made any admission to his brother. 

“Isang malaking kasinungalingan ang pinagsasabi ng aking kapatid. Nabasa ko ang salaysay ng aking kapatid at nagulat ako at nadismaya sa kanyang mga sinabi doon sapagkat walang katotohanan ang mga ito,” he said.

(What my brother said is a lie. I was disappointed with his testimony because there's no truth to it.)

He and Luis Abad, Jr., the alleged driver of the getaway vehicle, claimed they were somewhere else when the incident happened. Ariel said he was in his house while Abad said he was in his employer’s house. Both did not specify their exact locations.

Ariel and Abad have not attended any hearings in the DOJ’s preliminary investigation like Mayor De Sagun, who cited security concerns. 

All three subscribed to their affidavits before a Manila prosecutor on Nov. 23.

NO MOTIVE TO KILL?

De Sagun also rejected the testimony of an eyewitness who allegedly saw the gunman shoot Lubigan. He said the testimony will only implicate Ariel Paiton and not him.

The mayor also reiterated he has no motive to order Lubigan’s death as it would amount to political suicide.

“I am not that dumb to expose my family to such shame and predicament. I do not need to have the Vice Mayor killed to strengthen our family’s position to the top as what the complainant is depicting,” De Sagun said.

“[I]t is not me or my family who would benefit of this (sic) unfortunate incident but the very complainant who is now running for office and is using this unfortunate incident to further her bid,” he added, casting doubt on Lubigan’s wife Gemma, who is running for mayor against De Sagun’s father, Jun.

“In fact, she did not even explain nor tackle in her affidavit as to why she was conveniently left at the gym when the fateful even happened. Again, was she forewarned that something will happen?” he continued.

Gemma, in her reply-affidavit, had earlier denied she is exploiting her husband’s death and refuted allegations she might be involved in the incident.

“This is an outrageous lie. 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,” she said.

“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.

Other respondents also submitted their rejoinder Monday afternoon: Maragondon, Cavite municipal councilor Lawrence Arca, who allegedly sold the getaway vehicle, and Rhonel Bersamina, who allegedly received the money on behalf of Arca.

The parties were given 15 days to submit their memoranda. The case will then be submitted for resolution.