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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE family of Ronalie “Neoyet” Penepona will file a writ of amparo against businessman Vicente “Etik” Espinosa of Ajuy, Iloilo after the kidnapping with murder case they filed against the businessman and 17 others was dismissed by the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office (IPPO) last week.

The Penepona family said the writ will compel Espinosa to yield Ronalie, dead or alive.

Rodolfo “Kiko” Penepona, Ronalie’s father, had accused Espinosa of kidnapping and ordering the murder of his daughter sometime in June 2007 because of the P300,000 she allegedly embezzled from the businessman’s gasoline station in Ajuy.

Renyl Iran, also a former employee Espinosa, claimed he personally oversaw the transfer of Ronalie from one place to another until she was poisoned to death in the evening of June 27.

Ronalie’s body remains missing until today.

The IPPO said the complainants failed to present Ronalie’s death certificate which could have proved that she was murdered.

Rodolfo Penepona, who was depressed upon learning that the case was dismissed, said they will file a motion to review with the Department of Justice.

The victim’s family said they are ready to go the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court to exact justice. They also asked the help of human rights advocates to help them seek justice for Ronalie.

The writ of amparo, which the Supreme Court approved last year, is a remedy available to victims of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances and their families that will provide the protection they need and the promise of vindication for their rights.

This rule also empowers the courts to issue reliefs that may be granted through judicial orders of protection, production, inspection, and other reliefs to safeguard one’s life and liberty.

The petition for the writ of amparo may be filed nationwide or on any day and at any time with the Regional Trial Court of the place where the threat, act, or omission was committed, or with the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

An Ajuy town official was dismayed with the outcome of the case in the IPPO.

Councilor Pepe Baterna said they cannot achieve justice as long as chief provincial prosecutor Bernabe Dusaban is at the helm of IPPO “because he is a friend of Espinosa.”

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo provincial police director, said they consider the dismissal of the case as a challenge.

“We are exerting all efforts to locate and exhume the body of Neoyet Penepona. If we were able to get Dennis Cartagena to stand witness against Espinosa in the assassination of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas, we will also find her remains,” dela Paz said.

The IPPO had also dismissed the murder case against Espinosa for the death of Rojas.

But Cartagena, one of the suspects in the assassination, was arrested in Bukidnon and fingered the businessman as the mastermind.

Dennis Cartagena

Dennis Cartagena

Special treatment for Cartagena

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A 24-hour security detail. A special cook. ‘Private’ sleeping quarters.

What more can the prime suspect in the death of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas ask for inside the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC)?

Dennis “Totong” Cartagena is getting special treatment inside the IRC to secure him from persons who want to silence him.

According to Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, concurrent IRC warden, Cartagena is isolated inside his own cell, apart from other inmates.

Instead of the regular IRC jailguards, members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team guard Cartagena on a round-the-clock basis.

And to prevent attempts to poison him while in detention, a special cook prepares Cartagena’s meals.

Apparently, other inmates have no qualms about Cartagena’s “privileged” standing inside the IRC since he returned from Butuan City where he and fellow suspect Edgar Cordero hid after allegedly assassinating Rojas in May.

Cordero, who is believed to be Rojas’ triggerman, was shot to death in Butuan City allegedly by Lindsey Buenavista and Jose Bahadi.

Buenavista was also tagged in the Rojas slay case along with alleged mastermind Vicente “Etik” Espinosa but they were exonerated by the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors for lack of evidence.

The prosecutor’s resolution is now under review by the Department of Justice.

In his affidavit, Cartagena, who drove the getaway motorcycle used in Rojas’ killing, again implicated Buenavista and Espinosa to the assassination plot.

After confessing to the crime, Cartagena has been heavily guarded by the Iloilo Provincial Police Office until he testifies before the court.

Dela Paz said he approved the special arrangement for Cartagena to ensure his safety inside the IRC.

Provincial Attorney’s Office assistant regional director Jose Edmund Guillen earlier said Cartagena could turn state witness depending on the decision of the prosecution should the case is elevated to the Regional Trial Court.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT is up to the family of slain vice mayor Ramon Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo to decide on the next legal step they will take after the Provincial Prosecutors Office (PPO) dismissed the murder case filed against the alleged mastermind of the assassination.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz said he directed Ajuy police chief Ariel Artillero to coordinate with the Rojas family so they can discuss the next move relative to the dismissal of the murder charges against Vicente “Etik” Espinosa.

The PPO junked the charges against Espinosa and fellow accused Lindsey Buenavista for lack of sufficient evidence.

In a resolution issued August 12, the PPO said the statements of nine witnesses gathered by the Ajuy police would not suffice to charge Espinosa and Buenavista with murder before the Regional Trial Court.

But the PPO said another case can be filed against Espinosa and Buenavista if a “new quantum of evidence” can prove their participation in Rojas’ assassination.

The prosecutor also resolved to elevate to the RTC the murder raps against alleged gunmen Edgar Cordero and Dennis Cartagena.

Dela Paz said they were disappointed with the decision of the PPO “but we respect our prosecutors on this matter.”

“We will just coordinate with the Rojas family whether they want to file a motion for reconsideration with the Department of Justice where the resolution might be reversed. We are disappointed because have nine witnesses under our protection who identified Espinosa and Buenavista as part of the conspiracy against Rojas,” dela Paz said.

Atty. Edeljulio Romero, one of Espinosa’s legal counsel, said the dismissal of the charges against his client proves that the latter has no part in Rojas’ murder.

Romero also slammed the police for filing the murder case against Espinosa which were based on hearsays.

June 2020

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