Life imprisonment for SK chair killer

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Life imprisonment for SK chair killer

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Ten years after the brutal murder of a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chair – justice has finally been served after a court found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51 Presiding Judge Jorge D. Cabalit sentenced Elmo Escobosa the penalty of reclusion perpetua or “permanent imprisonment” for the cold -blooded murder of Bonifacio Dagasdas, Jr., SK chair of Barangay Ilaud, Pilar, Bohol.

Accused Escobosa mercilessly stabbed to death Dagasdas in Sitio Calamoste, Barangay Ilaud, Pilar in five separate parts of the body before the eyes of two witnesses at dawn after a  family reunion on May 27, 2005.

Escobosa pleaded not guilty when arraigned and confidently declared in open court that he will no longer present evidence since the prosecution  allegedly failed to establish evidence for the crime of murder.

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However the Court believed otherwise saying “the prosecution has proven the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt”.

During the trial the two eyewitnesses who both personally knew the accused testified that they both saw the victim running for his life after being chased by Escabusa and was stabbed with a sharp pointed bolo.

Timbal, a sponsor in baptism of the accused  whose husband is the accused cousin testified that she saw Escabusa chased and stabbed the victim in different parts of the body and witnessed Dagasdas “raising his hands and closing his eyes until he expired”.

Telling the court that she even shouted at Escabusa not to touch Dagasdas but “my pleas fell on deaf ears”.

Crying and shouting for help “but the people who heeded her call just looked at Dagasdas dead body”, according to Timbal.

Bagcat, a second year high school student and operator of the sound system used during the family reunion told the court that while asleep on the stage he was awakened by a body that slammed on him.

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Shocked, Bagcat saw Dagasdas lying on his back trying to fend off the stabs of Escabusa who was then bringing a knife.

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Bagcat recalled that the late SK Chair managed to get up and ran towards the basketball court covering his chest with his hand and grimacing in pain.

The other witness also told the court that he saw Dagasdas “lying on his back kicking Escabusa who was then bringing a knife but was able to get up and ran towards the basketball court covering his chest with his hand, grimacing in pain”.

The barbaric scene was witnessed by several people who heard the cries for help of one of the witnesses “but the people who heeded her call just looked at the dying Dagasdas”.

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A Medico-Legal report prepared by Dr. Ma. Luisa Tago, Pilar Municipal Health Officer showed that Dagasdas died due to severe hemorrhage secondary to five fatal stab wounds and one incise wound.

The court considering that the defense did not bother to present evidence relied on the evidence presented by the prosecution.

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The prosecution also offered four exhibits that included the death certificate of the victim, Bonifacio Dagasdas, medico-legal report and the affidavits of eyewitnesses Jonas Bagcat and Expedita Timbal.

Citing People vs. Ramos which ruled that “when there is no evidence that the principal witness for the prosecution is moved by improper motive, such witness is entitled to full faith and credit” the court found no sufficient reason to disbelieve the prosecution’s witnesses.

The prosecution presented two witnesses who were at the crime scene and the Municipal Officer who conducted the post mortem examination or autopsy and issued the medico-legal report.

Based on the categorical and positive testimonies of the witnesses, the court believed that Escabusa stabbed to death Dagasdas with treachery with a sharp pointed bolo raising the crime to the category of murder.

The court, based on the Supreme Court decision on People vs Limaco, said “Treachery,whenever present and alleged in the information, qualifies the killing of the victim and raises it to the category of murder.

Short of imposing the death penalty for this heinous crime, the court said that “it cannot impose the death penalty in this case considering that said penalty has been suspended by Congress of the Philippines.

The court also said that according to Article 27 of the Revised Penal Code persons sentenced to any perpetual penalties shall be pardoned after thirty years unless such person by reason of his conduct shall be considered by the Chief Executive as unworthy of pardon.

The decision was promulgated on April 8, 2015 and ordered Escabusa to pay the heirs of Dagasdas the amount of P50 thousand as moral damages and another P50 thousand as death indemnity and to pay the costs. (CMV)

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