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‘Witness was forced to sign affidavit’

By Nora Soriño,
Iligan City Bureau Chief

Iligan City — On the hearing for petition for bail on the cases against city mayor Celso Regencia, Atty. Leo Zaragoza said Dominador Tumala took to the witness stand. Zaragoza, lead counsel of the defense said that during the cross examination, it was revealed that there was a grenade and bullets placed before the witness. Thus the affidavit which linked the mayor to the crimes he is accused of, was signed under those circumstances.

It was prepared earlier, by 2 lawyers and then presented to said witness for signature, the lawyer said. To note, Tumala is the principal witness in the ambush of the convoy of then congressman Vicente Belmonte, Jr. near the Laguindingan airport in Dec. 11, 2014.

Earlier, the defense had claimed that there were then 2 affidavits of Tumala, the first of which did not link mayor Celso Regencia as connected with it. A second affidavit then already tagged the mayor as the “mastermind.” Three counts of murder and multiple frustrated murder were filed against him as 3 aides of the congressmen died in that incident while several others were injured. Belmonte himself survived the incident, unscathed, with only minor injuries suffered from broken glasses from the windshield of the car he was riding on.

The Order has yet to be implemented as his supporters continue blocking said jail’s entrance each time there is a scheduled hearing.

The hearings for petition for bail had been held several times in the sala of Judge Ferdinand Baylon of the RTC Quezon City Branch 77 even without the mayor’s presence.

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