Court issues arrest warrant vs mastermind in murder of mining executive in 2021

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DAVAO CITY – The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 85 under the National Capital Judicial Regional (NCJR) has issued an arrest warrant against the alleged mastermind and accomplice in the killing of former Philsaga Mining Corp. president retired Col. Samuel Afdal three years ago in Rosario, Surigao del Sur.

Quezon RTC Branch 85 Presiding Judge Juris S. Dilinila-Callanta issued an arrest warrant dated April 5 against Ryan Mark Baylon, president of the JB Earthmovers Inc. based in San Francisco town in Agusan del Sur, and Rosalino Degracia, alias Okie, for the murder of the victim, alias Saga.

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THE Afdal family’s legal counsels Xilexferen Barroga and Romel Fontanilla speak before the Davao media on the murder case of former Philsaga Mining Corp. president retired Col. Samuel Afdal, filed by his wife Evelyn, during a press conference in a hotel in Davao City on Friday, April 19. (Ivy Tejano) 

The Afdal family’s legal counsels confirmed in a press conference in a hotel here on Friday, April 19, that a warrant has been issued and also affirmed the case handover to Quezon City from Agusan del Sur last year following the family’s request.

Lawyer Xilexferen Barroga clarified that the Afdal family requested the case transfer to any RTC in Manila or Quezon City due to two John Does involvement at that time. He said the Supreme Court granted the request and ordered the case transfer.

“During the inquiry by the government agencies, allegedly there were soundings with the military. A petition was filed several months before the actual case transfer. The government agencies duly verified some threats, which is why the Supreme Court granted the case transfer,” Barroga said.

Lawyer Romel Fontanilla said that the accused were not allowed to post bail for murder. He added that the court issued the  warrant after a clarificatory hearing, which Baylon and Degracia failed to attend and only their lawyers and the complainant and their lawyers present.

Fontanilla said that the prosecution asked the court to issue a hold-departure order against Baylon – tagged by the other suspects as mastermind – during the April 18 hearing at the Quezon City RTC Branch 85.

“With the arrest warrant out, we deeply hope and pray that our law enforcement agencies act with dispatch to bring the suspects before the court of law and face justice. We also hope and pray that the flow of justice will go on unimpeded,” the Afdal family said in a statement.

The Agusan del Sur provincial prosecutor earlier found probable cause to charge Baylon, Degracia, and Alemar Awado for allegedly conspiring to kill the retired military officer. Awado, on the other hand, surrendered to authorities in Surigao.

According to the Afdal family’s legal counsels, the prosecution of the three accused followed the account of gunman Jeffrey Mamerto who was convicted for the crime on November 15, 2023 and meted a 10-year prison term by Agusan del Sur RTC Branch 6 Judge Emily Zen Chua.

Mamerto confessed to authorities that Baylon offered Degracia and Awado P200,000 for the job. He was paid P50,000 for his role in the ambush of the victim on October 26, 2021, in Barangay Santa Cruz. Saga succumbed to his wounds on November 15, 2021.

In the affidavit-complaint of the victim’s widow, Evelyn, against the accused, Baylon’s actions after her husband’s death established the motive for the crime. She said Baylon destroyed company records.

Company records showed Samuel owning 50 percent of the shares of JB Earthmovers and his son one percent which the legal counsels said are now the subject of a case pending before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office for estafa through falsification of documents and other forms of deceit.

Evelyn also said that Baylon attempted to take control of Rosario Manobo Mining Corp., the company established by her husband after selling his interests in Philsaga Mining Corp. years ago.

The Agusan del Sur Prosecutor’s Office found Baylon as a principal by inducement for offering a cash reward and a principal by indispensable cooperation by giving his cohorts information crucial in successfully executing the job. Degracia and Awado are co-principals by direct participation.

Police Major Ralph Jezen Perez of the Agusan del Sur Provincial Police Office said they are giving the accused, especially Baylon, ample time to surrender before authorities. He added that once the effectiveness of the arrest warrant expires, the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) can arrest the accused anywhere.