A special panel of city prosecutors found probable cause to indict as conspirators, the prime suspects in the killing of Atty. Manuelita “Mia” MascariÃ±as Green including several still unidentified persons or John Does for the crime of murder and four counts of the crime of attempted murder.Â
Lloyd Lancer Sylio Gonzaga, Romarico Templo Benigian and John Does “are probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial” according to a joint resolution by a special panel of city prosecutors ordered created by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre ll.
An Information for attempted murder involving the three children of Atty. Mia and their nanny was also filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 3 designated as the Family Court under Judge Leo Lison.
ALIBI VS POSITIVE ID
The resolution gave weight to the positive identification made by two eyewitnesses to the brutal ambush killing of Atty Manuelita “Mia” MascariÃ±as Green that shook the City of Tagbilaran for its unprecedented brazenness and callousness.
In their defense, the prime suspects gave the alibi that “it was physically impossible for them to be at the scene of the crime” since one was in another province while the other suspect was in a nearby town when the crime was committed.
Citing Supreme Court jurisprudence, the prosecutors stressed that denial and alibi are inherently weak, unreliable, easily fabricated and cannot prevail over the positive and categorical testimony of the witness.
Atty. Mia was ambushed and killed in broad daylight on the afternoon of February 15, 2017Â in what police labeled as a cold bloodied “military type operation” allegedly by Gonzaga,Â BenegianÂ and several unidentified persons, with eight bullets hitting her on the neck and head.
Recovered by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) at the corner of Purok 2, Zamora St. and JA Clarin in Barangay Dao, Tagbilaran City were 17 9mm fired cartridges, six .45 caliber cartridges, five deformed fired bullets and the bullet-riddled Toyota Innova of the 49-year old lawyer. Â
The murder charges is now at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 1 presided by Judge Lindecita Arcamo for evaluation of the joint resolution of the prosecutors and its supporting evidence, issuance of a warrant of arrest and determination of bail based on the strength of the evidence, arraignment, pre-trial and start of the trial.
Stuart James Green, a British national and a resident of Loon, Bohol accused Gonzaga, Benegian and several John Does for the murder and attempted murder of his wife, Atty. Mia and their attempts to kill their three minor children, 11 years old and twins age one year and ten months and their nanny.
In a sworn statement executed by Lita Galupo, the nanny of the three children of Stuart and Mia Green, she narrated that in the afternoon of February 15, 2017 while they were on the way home to Loon when she heard several gunshots rang.
After shielding the three children of Atty. Mia who were in the rear seat of the car, Galupo saw the faces of two men whom she believed peppered them with bullets several of which hit Atty. Mia who was driving the car.
Benegian, who was later identified in a police rogue gallery by GalupoÂ opened the left car door and after finishing off Atty. Mia with several shots aimed his gun at her and the three children but apparently, the gun jammed.
According to Galupo’s testimony, Benegian left the crime scene on board a motorcycle after giving her a smile “as if he was mocking me.”
While Gonzaga, after failing to unlock the right car door left on board a motorcycle driven by a male person.
The other eyewitness, Harvey Taguinca,Â a collector of JEA Lending located in Barangay Tiptip, Tagbilaran City, in a sworn statement said that while on a routine collection run prior to the shooting, he was seated right across a person whom he later tagged as Benegian.
Upon the arrival of Atty. Mia’s car, Benegian allegedly pulled his gun prompting him to kneel down and beg forÂ his life “Wala ako’y sala” (I have done nothing wrong).
WhileÂ BenegianÂ started shooting at Atty. Mia’s car, he noticed another person coming from a nearby waiting shed who started firing at the lawyer’s car, according to Taguinca.
Both, Galupo and Taguinca positively identified the two persons as Gonzaga and Benegian based on the police photo gallery shown to them by the police with both witnesses saying both suspects did not bother to cover their faces to avoid recognition.
HERE AND THERE
In the case of Gonzaga and Benegian’sÂ alibi, the prosecutors were not swayed by their assertion that they were somewhere when the crime was committed citing their failure to present conclusive proof to back their claim.
Gonzaga presented official receipt (OR) dated February 14, 2017 issued by Lite Shipping for the transportation of his Toyota Fortuner from Jagna, Bohol to Cagayan de Oro City.
The prosecutors argued that the OR for the transport of the Toyota Fortuner does not prove that Gonzaga took the same boat to Cagayan de Oro City.
As to the claim of his wife, Cresta Monica that she was with her husband, the resolution disagreed saying that she could not present a passenger boat ticket while the use of an SM Advantage card does not prove that Lloyd Gonzaga was in Cagayan de Oro City on February 15, 2017.
Also, Gonzaga submitted closed circuit television (CCTV) footages proving he was in Davao City at his parent’s residence while BenegianÂ presented CCTV footages showing his presence at Alona Embrace Hotel in Barangay Tawala, Panglao at the time of the killing of Atty. Mia.
But the prosecution disputed the accuracy of the date and time reflected in the footages as not conclusive considering that ease in which data reflected on the CCTV footages “can be freely changed and set.”
The prosecution panel told the suspects that they can ventilate their theory of defense during a full blown trial and pointed out that a “finding of probable cause merely binds the suspect to stand trial – it does not impose a guilty verdict.”
The joint resolution was resolved on April 12, 2017 by the panel members – Bibiana Bautista, Deputy City Prosecutor, Adolfo DoroyÂ and Julius Cesar, Assistant City Prosecutors.Â (Chito M. Visarra)