Ex-mayor, 2 brgy captains linked to murder raps yield

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Former Isabela mayor Joselito Malabor and two incumbent barangay captains of the town linked to the murder of Moises Padilla councilor Jolomar Hilario in 2019 surrendered to Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer Feb. 10, almost a year after the warrants for their arrest have been issued against them.

Malabor, Sebucawan barangay captain Amy Locsin and Maytubig barangay captain Armando Cordero, all of Isabela, Negros Occidental, were denied bail by the court.

Two other respondents in the murder charges, Moises Padilla Vice Mayor Ian Villaflor and Councilor Jimmiedon Plaza also surrendered earlier to Ferrer, who then turned them over to the National Bureau of Investigation.

Malabor, who was defeated by Irene Montilla for the Isabela mayoral position in the 2019 elections, said his implication to the murder of Hilario is “politically-motivated” and plain and simple harassment.

He said that the four other murder charges filed against him earlier were dismissed at the level of the prosecutor’s office.

Former Isabela mayor Joselito Malabor and two incumbent barangay captains of the town, Amy Locsin and Armando Cordero, surrender to Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, who endorsed them to NBI Bacolod chief. Atty. Renoir Baldovino, Feb. 10. | GB photo

The surrender of Malabor and the barangay captains came a day before a regional trial court in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, will hear the petition for bail of the respondents.

Atty. Jomax Ortiz, counsel for Malabor and the two barangay officials, said that his clients were implicated in the murder of Hilario, based on the testimony of a witness he identified as Jomer Pablo, an inmate.

But Ortiz said the witness had executed an affidavit of recantation, and claimed that he was forced, or coerced, by some persons, whose identities he did not disclose.

“This case is orchestrated. This is a very malicious, baseless case for murder against these innocent people here,” Ortiz said, apparently referring to Malabor, Locsin and Cordero.

Two other respondents in the case, identified as Moises Padilla councilors Morito Flores and Vincent Garcia, who are both seeking reelections in this year’s polls, also surrendered late last year to the police.

All the accused maintained their innocence of the charges filed against them.

Ortiz said he is optimistic that his clients will be granted bail by the Guihulngan RTC, after the recantation of the witness.

Ferrer, on the other hand, said the Office of the Vice Governor is open to anybody, who needs help.

He also welcomed the decision of Malabor and the two barangay officials, who are close to him, to surrender.

Ferrer assured them that they are in good hands under the custody of the NBI.

In previous years, the New People’s Army issued a statement claiming responsibility for the killing of Hilario on March 31, 2019.

Moises Padilla Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia-Yulo and her husband were also implicated in the case, but were later exonerated by the court. — GB