DOJ junks Que murder case vs. Cua, 3 others
posted 21-Aug-2018  ·  
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In a decision that was approved 10 months ago but released only last week, the Department of Justice has dismissed the murder complaint filed against Governor Joseph Cua, a capitol official and two policemen for insufficiency of evidence.

The resolution junking the complaint filed by the widow of businessman Larry Que, who was shot dead in an attack by riding-in-tandem gunmen in Virac on Dec. 19, 2016, was approved by Makati City Prosecutor Jorge Catalan Jr., who served as Acting Prosecutor General before giving up the post in June.

Edralyn Manoguid Pangilinan had claimed that her husband was a businessman, writer, journalist and publisher of the local newspaper Catanduanes News Now. He was also a philanthropist and a devout servant of democracy who opposed graft, corruption and official incompetence in the fight against the drug problem and illegal numbers game, she said.

She alleged that Que, who was a critic of Cua and once spearheaded a case questioning the latter’s citizenship, received death threats from the governor, forcing them to leave the province.

In the tabloid’s first and only issue, Que named Cua as the one behind the establishment and operation of the shabu laboratory in Palta Small, Virac that was discovered by the police in November 2016 and that he was the protector and coddler of the drug industry in Catanduanes.

Pangilinan anchored her case on the purported confession of PO1 Vincent Tacorda he alleged made before Marlon Suplig, Wong aide Zenaida Bagadiong, and then Vice Governor Jose Teves Jr.

In the alleged admission, the policemen pointed to a Col. Martires as the one who wanted Que dead fro P20,000.00 and that he, his partner PO1 Dan Bagay and Martirez asked for P200,000.00 from Cua, who they said would benefit from the killing. The money was allegedly given to them in tranches by senior administrative assistant Prince Subion.or his staff, the confession given to the three witnesses stated.

The lawman reported asked for financial assistance of P30,000.00 from Pangilinan, with Tacorda reportedly promising to testify as to his knowledge behind the murder.

In a similar affidavit, Teves claimed to have heard Tacorda describe the details of the killing, including the use of a wig to mislead investigators, as well as a purported cellphone recording of the lawman’s conversation with Subion after the incident.

Bagadiong also claimed she heard the same recording and attested that the voice of the one conversing with Tacorda was that of Subion as she personally knew him.

In denying the charge against him, Gov. Cua averred that Que was not a media personality, with his tabloid a fake publication intended as a black propaganda against him.

He also claimed that Que was a financier of illegal numbers game as attested by one Leo Vallespin in an affidavit and that he was one of those who established the shabu lab as testified to by Ernesto Tabor Jr.

No threat was made by him to Que, Cua said, citing the absence of any record in the barangay or police blotter.

On the contrary, Cua said, he is an avid promoter of the anti-drug campaign, having spearheaded the implementation of the Community-Based Treatment and Rehabilitation Program (CBTRP) for 1,599 surrendered drug users in Catanduanes.

The shabu lab in Palta Small was discovered shortly after he assumed office as governor, Cua pointed out, with no case involving illegal drugs ever filed against him while his name was not in Pres. Duterte’s list of alleged drug lords.

Suplig, he said, is a biased witness along with Teves, whose execution of the affidavit is politically motivated.

On the other hand, PO1 Tacorda denied involvement in the death of Que and that he only approached Suplig due to threats to his life in connection with the shooting of Samuel Rojas in Viga. Denying the extortion charge, he countered that it was Suplig and Teves who offered him money to implicate Cua in the murder of Que, and that he was assured of money and protection by former Gov. Araceli Wong.

Subion, for his part, denied the charges and claimed the allegations were fabricated and mean to cover up the real culprits in the crime.

PO1 Bagay avered that on the day in question, he was on duty at Pandan police station from 4 A.M. fo 10 P.M. as attested by his superior and two other police officers. He also argued that most of the allegations based on the recorded conversation of Tacorda is in violation of the Anti-Wire Tapping Act and thus is inadmissible in evidence.

In resolving the case, the justice department noted that the complaint was principally anchored on the alleged conversations between PO1 Tacorda and witnesses Suplig, Teves and Bagadiong.

Assistant State Prosecutor Alejandro Daguiso cited a Supreme Court ruling that an accused’s extrajudicial confession alone, without other corroborating evidence to prove that conspiracy exists in the commission of a crime, has no probative value and cannot be used against his co-accused.

The resolution also threw out the robbery extortion charge against Tacorda over the P30,000 from Pangilinan, who gave it with the hope that the policeman would come out and testify on his confessions.

“Here, aside from the oral extrajudicial confession, which was later on disowned and denied, no other pieces of evidence were presented to prove the alleged conspiracy,” the DOJ stated.

There was no other evidence, direct or circumstantial, which could corroborate the claim that respondents are responsible for the crime and should be held for trial, the resolution stressed.

“An extrajudicial confession will not support a conviction where it is uncorroborated and denied by the alleged confessant himself,” it emphasized. “Given the insufficiency of evidence, it would be unfair to hold them for trial.”

The release of the DOJ resolution comes just a few weeks after the governor, Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes and Palta Small barangay chairman Helario Sarmiento were also cleared of graft charges filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the shabu laboratory


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