>> Tuesday, February 26, 2008
BANGUED, Abra -- Former Abra governor Vicente Isidro Valera was charged with the murder of former Abra representative Luis Bersamin Jr. before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on Feb. 19 but wouldn’t be arrested unless an arrest warrant is issued by a court against him and several suspects.
Also charged with Valera were Leo Bello, Jerry Turqueza, and men known only as Jun, Jeff-Jeff and Mel.
Valera and the other suspects, who remain at large, were also charged with frustrated murder for wounding bystanders Allan Sawadan and Rolly Labaja.
Turqueza shot Bersamin, police said.
Bersamin’s bodyguard, SPO1 Adelfo Ortega, also died during the attack at Mount Carmel Church in Quezon City on Dec. 16. 2006.
Deputy Director General Jesus Versosa, Philippine National Police deputy chief for administration, said in Camp Crame that two arrested suspects, former vice mayor Freddie Dupo of La Paz town and Sonny Taculao, have pointed to Valera as the mastermind of the killing.
“Clearly, it’s political,” he said when asked about the possible motive behind the killing of Bersamin.
“Dupo and Taculao gave details of the movements of the assassins and support group before and after the murder.”
Investigators have recommended to the Department of Justice that Dupo and Taculao be considered for the Witnesses Protection Program because they helped in the filing of charges against Valera and other suspects, Verzosa said.
Dupo and Taculao, who were arrested in Baras, Rizal last year, said Valera through Bello sent them P15,000, P10,000 and P25,000 while they were in hiding.
Bersamin’s daughter Rosario said they knew all along that Valera had masterminded the killing of her father. “We never doubted (That it was Valera,)” she said. Earlier, police authorities said an arrested suspect, the alleged mastermind and other persons involved in the murder of Bersamin and his police bodyguard met in a beach resort in La Union a few days before the assassination.
Some employees at the Nalinac beach resort in San Fernando City, La Union positively identified Dupo as one of the men who met in the resort several days before the killing of Bersamin and Ortega. Police investigators presented the picture of Dupo to the employees of the beach resort and that some of them positively identified him as one of those who attended the meeting.
In his statement given to investigators, Dupo allegedly said that he and the mastermind, including other persons involved in the Bersamin murder, met at a beach resort in La Union to discuss the assassination plot. Police said resort employees described the other men who met with Dupo, including the mastermind and other political figures in Abra who were linked to the crime.
Police intelligence agents, together with elements of the Rizal Provincial Police Office and other police units, arrested Dupo and his cousin, Sonny Taculao, in the mountains of Baras, Rizal some months ago. The policemen seized from them a Cal.45 pistol which reportedly matched the firearm used in the Bersamin killing as shown by tests conducted by the police crime laboratory. Dupo had requested the police to ensure the safety of his family so that he would inform them of other vital information on the mastermind.
Almost all suspects in the murder of Bersamin are former members of the New People’s Army and they are spotted in Abra, an official of the Quezon City Police District said Thursday. This, as Bersamin’s daughter Rosario claimed that Valera, is now based in Metro Manila.
Supt. Franklin Moises Mabanag, chief of the QCPD-Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, however, told Manila newsmen the eight suspects charged with two counts of murder and two counts of frustrated murder the other day before the Quezon City prosecutor’s office still cannot be arrested pending the release of a warrant. Mabanag belied media reports that a warrant of arrest has already been issued against the eight suspects.
“I just received information that all those charged and identified only through their aliases are now in Abra… They are all former NPA rebels,” Mabanag said. Mabanag was referring to the suspects identified only as Uncle, Jun, Jeff-Jeff, Mel and Ka Dado.
The suspect named Uncle is said to be a former NPA commander in Abra, he said. He said they are still verifying the real identities of these five suspects. Apart from the five and Valera, also charged were the alleged triggerman, Jerry Turqueza, and Sgt. Leo Bello, who allegedly gave suspects-turned-witnesses Freddie Dupo and Sonny Taculao money while they were in hiding. Rosario Bersamin, in a separate interview, said their family hopes that a warrant would soon be issued against the suspects now that the case has been filed.
“According to (PNP deputy chief for operations Deputy Director General Jesus) Verzosa, Valera is here in Manila but sometimes he still goes back to Abra,” she told newsmen. While the filing of the case against the suspects gives hope to their family, Rosario said it also brings back the loss that they felt when her father was gunned down. Rosario added that it also helps that the Valeras are no longer in power in Abra, saying the former governor could easily evade arrest if his family still rules the northern province.
Both Valera and his wife lost when they ran for congressman and governor, respectively, in the 2007 elections. Valera’s wife was beaten by Rosario’s uncle, Kip Bersamin, in the gubernatorial race. Rosario said her uncle has also been receiving death threats since the last elections. When the charges were filed the other day, Rosario directly accused Valera of “ordering the killing of my dad.” She said they never doubted that it was the former governor who was behind the murder, saying, “No one else had the agenda to do it.”