Escalante city mayor, 15 others rapped for extrajudicial killings

MANILA — The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has found probable cause to indict Escalante City, Negros Occidental Mayor Melecio Yap, Jr. and 15 others for the deaths of Yap’s alleged political opponents in 2007 to 2010.

Yap, together with Richard Patpat, Rolando Catayan, Joel Villarin, Jay Vargas, JR Buhat, Gregory Tuayon, Bernardino Patigas, Hernando Llorente, Rolando Llamata, Lorenzo Perolino, Joey Llorente, Eleazar Navas, alias Renan, alias Bam-Bam and alias Bob Soler will face trial for four counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder.

Investigation found that all the five victims were known supporters of a former political rival of Yap.

In its consolidated resolution, the Ombudsman gave credence to the testimonies of witnesses who disclosed that Yap supplied the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) Command of its logistical needs and alleged that Yap exercised considerable influence over the Command.

“The sworn statement [by witnesses] is given the presumption of credibility absent any showing that they are motivated by ill-will,” the resolution said.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said that “this Office is inclined to believe that that motives for these crimes were political.” Perfecto Raymundo/PNA/