By NITZ ARANCON with JOEY NACALABAN, Correspondents,
and BEN BALCE, Staff member .
THE lawyer arrested and charged last week with possession and selling of illegal drugs is still facing the prospects of being tried in court in connection with the 2014 Jamaca-Yabut murders in the city.
While the City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the complaint against lawyer Marlon Yap, the father of two of the murder victims appealed the decision before the Department of Justice.
Yap was arrested at the corner of Don Apolinar Velez and Mabini streets on Thursday night in what police claimed to be an anti-narcotics buy-and-bust operation. Police alleged that Yap sold shabu to a poseur buyer and that some 5.0 grams of the substance in three sachets were seized from him, an accusation the lawyer denied.
It was not the first time for the lawyer to prominently figure in a criminal case in the city. Nearly four years ago, he was accused of involvement in the summary executions of brothers Harold and Roland Jamaca in Mambuaya, and Ma. Erika Yabut in FS Catanico. He was also linked to the attempt on the life of Jim Jamaca in F.S. Catanico.
Yap was among those investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in connection with the December 2014 murders.
Retired SPO4 Rolando Jamaca, father of the murdered Jamaca brothers, said the complaint against Yap was dismissed by local prosecutors in 2015 but the justice department has yet to decide on an appeal.
The elder Jamaca alleged that Yap served as an accessory to the December 2014 murders and the attempt on the life of his nephew Jim.
The former policeman said Yap’s black Toyota Innova vehicle was used by the primary suspects — Senior Insp. Ludwig Charles Espera, Insp. Arnel Gighe, PO2 Manuel Quipanes and PO1 Junriel Barrientos — in hauling off his two sons, nephew and Yabut from a “hideout” in Carmen. Yabut was the girlfriend of the lone survivor, Jim Jamaca.
The elder Jamaca said it was the last time for his sons and Yabut to be seen alive.
A court has reportedly dismissed the cases against Espera and Gighe but the ex-policeman said the decision is on appeal.
There were other suspects whose identities remained unclear to this day. They were only identified as Sammy, Regie, Toto and several other unidentified men.
He said he also appealed the decision of the prosecutor’s office in January 2015 but the Department has yet to resolve it.
“Hangtud karon wala pa lagi resolution sa DOJ sa akong kaso nga gipasaka batok ni Atty. Yap,” he said.
In an affidavit, Jim said Quipanes invited him, his cousins and siblings Roland and Harold Jamaca and girlfriend to the house of one Mario Rullen in Carmen here.
At Rullen’s house, Jim alleged, Quipanes and other suspects beat up Harold and his brother Roland, and then dragged them to a vehicle.
Jim and his girlfriend, Yabut, were allegedly forced into another car allegedly owned by Yap.
On Friday, Yap signed a waiver even as he asked for a preliminary investigation in connection with the drug charges filed against him by the police’s City Drug Enforcement Unit.
Yap said he wanted local prosecutors to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if there was probable cause.
“Mintras tanto dinhi lang sa ta magbakasyon sa silda samtang mag-conduct pag preliminary investigation ang prosecutors,” Yap said.
He said he was confident that if prosecutors could see CCTV recordings from establishments in the area where he was arrested, he would be cleared.
Yap maintained that no buy-and-bust operation was conducted by the CDEU on Thursday night, and that the pieces of evidence against him were planted.
He also said he was willing to submit to a drug test on the condition that it would not be under the supervision of the police.
“Ma-produce man gani nila ang shabu nga wala sa atoa, samot na kaha sa usa ka environment nga controlled nila. So, unsa may mahitabo ana?” Yap asked rhetorocally.
Lawyer Eddie Cuaresma, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro, called for a “fair investigation and fair trial,” pointing out that Yap has constitutional rights like any citizen.
But he said he and other lawyers were dismayed to learn about Yap’s arrest.
Cuaresma said Yap would remain as a member of the IBP because he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.