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Batocabe gunmen benefited from P35M bounty, says Defensor

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Committee on Public Accounts chair Mike Defensor said assassins of the late Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe have benefitted from the P35-million bounty that was used for the immediate arrest of the primary suspect in the said case.

Defensor made the revelation following Wednesday’s inquiry over the disbursement of the multi-million reward money supposedly intended for witnesses for the prosecution, in relation to the brutal murder of Batocabe.

“Ang isa sa mga medyo naging, naging debate o pag-uusap, bakit yung mga involved o pumatay nagkaroon ng reward… tumanggap din ng reward?” said Defensor.

“Of course masakit sa pamilya dahil nga ang involved sa bumaril ay nagkaroon ng (pabuya),” he added.

According to Defensor, the three gunmen got their respective share in the P35-million reward—an effort raised by members 17th Congress under then House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Last January, the Lower House under Arroyo were able to put up a total of P13 million to the reward which was turned over to PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde.

Duterte added additional P20 million to the bounty which he sourced from his intelligence funds while another P2 million was provided by the Albay Provincial Government.

Defensor has expressed concern over the reported flip-flopping of three of the primary witnesses in the slay case including a certain Chris Naval who was the supposed leader of Batocabe’s assassin.

Naval, who previously severed as close aide of former Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn “Awin” Baldo, has pinpointed his former boss as the primary mastermind behind murder of Batocabe.

“Baka may nangyari dun sa kabila ulit. Kasama na sila sa pumatay tapos naloko na nila ang gobyerno, tapos nagpapapresyo naman sa kabila,” said Defensor.

Batocabe’s eldest kin, Atty. Justin Batocabe during the hearing confirmed that Naval and two others have reportedly flip-flopped their statements.

Aside from fearing for their safety, the witnesses according to Batocabe’s kin were given lucrative cash offers by the other camp that’s why they decided to forswear their earlier statement against the former town mayor.

“Upon threats and offers of more money and lawyer, they flip-flopped and sided with Mr. Baldo,” said Atty. Batocabe.

“All those two who gave their ‘sinumpaang salaysay’ implicating Mayor Baldo also recanted,” Batocabe’s kin added.

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