BACOLOD City – They are not goons, only “lowly farmers,” said Atty. Ariel Malunes, legal counsel of five suspects in the murder of an armed group leader in Negros Occidental.
Malunes also said his clients Armando Remotigue, Joel Condes, Antonio Baluran, Bernie Bantilan, and Julito Tanoco – all residents of Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental – voluntarily surrendered to the police last week.
This was contrary to reports that officers from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group nabbed the suspects around 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 4.
Malunes yesterday stressed that his clients were not guilty. They only turned themselves in “for the purpose of securing their lives.”
Judge Edgar Tupas of the Regional Trial Court Branch 46 issued the arrest warrant against the suspects in relation to Criminal Case No. 18-47911.
“The accused are lowly farmers in barangays Bagong Silang and Bago in [Salvador Benedicto] whose names were only dragged to this case because they are known to be affiliated with the late Councilor Eden Bacordo, who was also murdered by several armed men following the killing of Charlie Boli-Boli,” said Malunes.
Boli-Boli is the leader of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Bongcayao Brigade, whose murder the five suspects allegedly had a hand in.
Malunes said his clients should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“Misleading” reports about them should also be shunned, he added./PN