THE House Committee on Public Accounts may investigate the fear of lawmakers that the bounty for the case of murdered Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe could have been pocketed by the so-called ninja cops.
Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor, chair of the committee, said this after Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin requested his panel to handle the inquiry, hoping that the fund did not go to the pockets of some unscrupulous police officials or individuals.
“Doon naman sa pondo eh ‘huwag naman ma-ninja. Na nandiyan talaga at nagagamit para sa kaso ni Batocabe,” Defensor told reporters during Tuesday’s House majority forum, insisting that the reward money should be accounted for.
“The reward money is intended to hasten the arrest the suspects in the Batocabe killing,” said Defensor, adding he would consult Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano if his panel will accommodate the request of Garbin to investigate the matter.
House Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. filed House Resolution (HR) No. 384 demanding an accounting of the P35 million reward money offered to speed up the solution of the Batocabe killing last December.
Abante said he was disturbed by reports that several witnesses have not received their share of the bounty and are now in fear due to lack of financial capacity to secure themselves and their families against bodily harm.
“Directing the appropriate committee to conduct an investigation in the exercise of its oversight function and in aid of legislation on the disbursement of the bounty intended for witnesses for the prosecution in relation to the murder of Hon. Rodel Batocabe,” said Abante in his resolution.
“Disturbing information have reached the undersigned that several witnesses have not received their share in the bounty and are now in fear for lack of financial capacity to secure themselves and their families against bodily harm,” said Abante, adding that the fund was already turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) for “safekeeping and disbursement to qualified witnesses.”
Abante also said that witnesses have already expressed their reluctance to testify for alleged failure to deliver the reward promised to them.
Garbin has already asked the PNP to explain before the House of Representatives how the P35 million reward raised for capture of the killers of Batocabe has been distributed.
He stressed that lawmakers, who contributed P13 million as part of the reward, want transparency and accountability from the PNP.
“We will wait for the PNP accounting on how they distributed it among the material witnesses to the Batocabe murder case. We wanted a fast resolution of this case,” the lawmaker stressed.
According to Garbin, a total of P20 million for the reward came from President Duterte, while the P2 million came from the provincial government of Albay.
Batocabe, a mayoral candidate in Daraga town in Albay, and his police escort, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, were shot and killed on December 22, 2018.
Batocabe and his police escort Orlando Diaz were shot after attending a gift-giving event for senior citizens in Barangay Burgos in Daraga, Albay.
Garbin said Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Court of Legazpi City recently ordered the release on bail of the former Daraga mayor Carlwin Baldo, the alleged mastermind.
Judge Maria Theresa Loquillano allowed Baldo to post bail of P6 million in cash or P8 million in surety or property bond for the two counts of murder filed against him.
The alleged gunman, Henry Yuson, surrendered earlier this year and identified Baldo as the one who allegedly ordered the hit on the former lawmaker.