Escalante prosecutor told to inhibit from hearing mayor’s murder case

BACOLOD CITY, June 6 (PNA) — The Office of the Regional Prosecutor in Western Visayas ordered Prosecutor Ranela de la Fente to desist from acting on the murder charges filed against Escalante Mayor Melencio Yap Jr. et al.

The order disclosed to the press on Thursday also ordered De la Fuente to immediately forward the entire case record to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman in Visayas based in Cebu City.

Regional Prosecutor Domingo Laurea Jr.’s order stemmed from the petition filed by Yap, Angel Sinadjan and Police Supt. Santiago Rapiz seeking for De la Fuente to inhibit from heading their case.

The three were respondents in the four counts of murder and frustrated murder filed by nine residents of Escalante who were believed to be victims of extra judicial killings.

In his order Laurea cited Section 4 of Republic Act 8249 which states, among others, that government official with salary grade 27 or higher with accusations involving the violation of RA 7659 or the Heinous Crime Law are under the original exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.

He also mentioned the Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman where the latter has the primary jurisdiction in the conduct of preliminary investigation and inquest proceedings.

Meanwhile, Atty. Renecio Espiritu, counsel for the complainants, said that he will file a motion for reconsideration in the Office of the Regional Prosecutor.

Espiritu also called the transfer of the preliminary investigation from the Escalante City Prosecutor’s Office to the Ombudsman-Visayas in Cebu as a “clandestine pleading”. (PNA)


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