Friday, November 14, 2014

Witnesses in Dagupan’s Broadcaster Slay Attempt Retract

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

DAGUPAN CITY – The two witnesses who saw the suspect on the slay attempt of a broadcaster here have retreated from their testimonies in a joint-affidavit.
According to defense lawyer Rafael Martinez, Armando P. Bautista and Jimbo D. Javier withdrew their sworn statement that they personally saw Rolando “Oning” Lim, Jr., 46, shot Orlando P. Navarro at 1 a.m of August 26 at Brgy. Pantal here.
Navarro was hit by a 22 caliber bullet at his upper back left torso when he was conversing with Bautista in front of the house of Lim. The slug ensconced one and a half inches before his heart before the doctor removed it.
 “Na hindi totoo na nakita naming si Rolando A. Lim, Jr., sa pinangyarihan ng krimen noong 26 Agosto 2014 ng mga ala-una ng madaling araw; Na Kailan lang naming nalaman na doon sa Sinumpaang Salaysay na ginawa ng pulis ay itinuro namin si Rolando A. Lim, Jr. na siyang bumaril kay Ginoong Orlando P. Navarro,” they said in a Joint-Affidavit.
Bautista said there that he did not know Lim.
“I only saw him at the police station when the police asked me to pin-point him as the trigger man,” he said.
Both said that they withdrew their testimony against Lim because it is a grave sin to falsely accuse a person who did not commit the offense.
When asked that the withdrawal of Bautista and Javier would now leave Navarro as the lone witness, Martinez said the case against his client had tremendously weakened because Navarro did not personally see Lim shot him.
The case is still being studied at the office of Joven M. Maramba, this city’s chief prosecutor, for preliminary investigation.
When asked incase Maramba plays “politics” in this high profile incident by resolving the case in favor of Navarro through probable cause, Martinez said he would file a motion for reconsideration and determination of probable cause up to the Department of Justice for his client.
“Just imagine the waste of government resources when this case would be tried without the two vital witnesses helping the State collaborate to tag Oning,” Martinez explained.
The defense counsel said that both the witnesses went to Maramba, accompanied by lawyers from the Commission on Human Rights, to file their Affidavit of Retraction.
Lim, meanwhile, is out of bail in a reduced bond of P100,000 he said his sister produced through a loan.
Meantime, this city’s police chief Christopher Abrahano said, in a text message, the Philippine National Police will be monitoring the Navarro case closely.
He cited jurisprudences where the second statement of withdrawing witnesses like Bautista and Javier could be considered as dubious.

“Witnesses can be harassed, even paid by the accused to give another version. Let us wait if the prosecution buys their retraction. Remember, the witness swore under oath in front of the fiscal who examined their statements”
Abrahano cited the recent high profile case of Enzo Pastor to back up his argument.

“We maintain that the witnesses gave their first statements voluntarily, freely, and with candor. They were not, at any time, under duress (from the police) when they gave their original statements,” he stressed.

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