PNP officials to explain to House panel how P35-M bounty in Batocabe case was disbursed

Published November 16, 2019, 9:43 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP), led by PNP Officer-in-Charge Police Lieutenant General Francisco “Archie” Gamboa, are expected to conduct a briefing on November 20, Wednesday, before the House Committee on Public Accounts on the disbursement of the P35-million bounty offered for capture of suspects in the murder of former AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe in December last year.

AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., who initially asked the House leadership to give due attention to Batocabe’s murder case, said the briefing was set on November 20 with PNP officials as resource persons.

Aside from Gamboa, former PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde is also expected to attend the hearing, he disclosed.

Other resource persons include Brigadier General Joel Napoleon Coronel, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG); Brigadier General Bernardo Banac, PNP spokesperson; Lieutenant Colonel Narcisco Langcauon of the PNP Intelligence Office; and Atty. Joseph Orsos of the PNP Legal Division.

At least five prosecution witnesses, including Emmanuel Judavar, are also expected to attend the hearing.

In a television interview last month, Judavar said he has yet to receive in full the supposed reward money granted to the witnesses in the case. He claimed that only P6 million was given to him, in two tranches in January 2019.

Last October 1, Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Mike Defensor, chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, announced that they would look into the use of the so-called “intelligence funds” for the arrest of Batocabe’s killers.

He said the investigation was sought not only by the AKO Bicol partylist, but also by partylist organizations, and the House Minority group, led by Minority Leader Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr.

Abante filed a resolution calling for a probe on the disbursement of the bounty intended for witnesses for the prosecution, in relation to Batocabe’s murder.

Under House Resolution 384, the House opposition leader cited the “disturbing information that several witnesses have not received their share in the bounty and are now in fear for lack of financial capacity to secure themselves and their families against bodily harm.”

“Witnesses have already expressed their reluctance to testify for alleged failure to deliver the bounties which were promised to them,” the Minority Leader said.

He said the P35 million was turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) for safekeeping and disbursement to qualified witnesses.

Of the P35-million bounty, P20 million came from the Office of the Presdient, P13 million from House of Representatives in the 17th Congress, and another P2 million from the province of Albay, he noted.

“This bounty was intended to incentives witnesses to come forward and assist in the prosecution of those behind the murder and to cover the legal fees of lawyers engaged to prosecute the case,” Abante said.

“More importantly, the bounty was intended to ensure the safety of those who would come forward and testify against the assailants and the masterminds,” he added.

In September this year, former Daraga mayor Carlwyn Baldo, the alleged mastermind in the killing of Batocabe, posted P8.72-million bail after Judge Maria Theresa San Juan Loquillano of the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 granted his petition for bail.

Batocabe, who was running for mayor in the Daraga town, and his security escort, SPO1 Orlando Diaz were shot dead on December 22, 2018 at Brgy. Burgos, Daraga, Albay while attending a gift giving for senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs).