Lawyer’s murder stuns Boholanos

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Lawyer’s murder stuns Boholanos

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mascarinas 3

Prayers and flowers are offered at the corner of Zamora and JA Clarin Streets where Atty. Mia Mascarinas-Green was ambushed and shot dead.

A hail of bullets fired by four gunmen brought to a savage and barbaric end the life and career of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – lawyer Manuelita “Mia” Mascariñas Green after she was mercilessly gunned down in full view of her three children, their nanny who were on board the Toyota Innova she was driving on her way home from office.

The dastardly killing of Green on Wednesday, past 4 in the afternoon is the first recorded murder of a lawyer in Bohol that drew the collective condemnation of all sectors of the Boholano community still reeling from a spate of unsolved drug-related killings in recent months.

Green succumbed to seven bullet wounds – three in the head, one in the neck and three in the body and was repeatedly shot execution-style from point-blank range by four gunmen armed with 9mm and caliber .45 handguns leaving 27 bullet casings littering the crime scene, according to police investigators. One of the gunmen poked his gun on the nanny in front of the children, including a twin who were trembling in fear.

The murder of Green was “work related”, according to police authorities referring to an ongoing high profile civil and administrative disputes over a property involving a 38 room hotel sitting on a 1,858 square meter prime lot located at Ester A. Lim Drive, Purok 6, Barangay Tawala, Panglao and ownership of a Toyota commuter van.

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Also, the motions filed in court by Green apparently riled Gonzaga to bar his presence in the courtroom while her client was testifying due to his alleged intimidating gestures which scared Blomqvist, according to police investigation.

According to Police Superintendent Nicomedes Olaivar, chief of the Tagbilaran City Police Station, eyewitnesses at the crime scene positively identified a certain Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga and Romarico Benigian from police mug files but failed to put a name on the two other suspects. Police alleged that Gonzaga was one of the triggermen.

As police operatives kicked off their manhunt to arrest the suspects, a crackdown team raided last Friday a hotel in Panglao where the suspects in the brutal killing of Atty. Mascariñas-Green were believed to have been holed up at midnight on Friday.

The operatives stormed the Alona Embrace Hotel in Barangay Tawala which is being run by Gonzaga who was tagged by police as the alleged mastermind and one of the triggermen in Green’s murder.

Policemen of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) were reportedly monitoring the hotel since Thursday but the suspects were able to escape before the operatives implemented the search warrant.

In two hotel rooms believed to have been occupied by the suspects, the composite team of the PIB, Tagbilaran police, Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) recovered two grenades, a .45 pistol, a .38 revolver and a two packs of shabu.

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However, authorities indicated that Gonzaga was not in the hotel even prior to the raid and that the seized firearms were likely not the murder weapons

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It maybe recalled that Gonzaga and Benigian were arrested by elements of the Bohol Provincial Police Office and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) – Bohol for illegal possession of firearms, ammunitions, silencers and suspected shabu and related paraphernalia on October 13, 2016 at the Alona Embrace Hotel formerly Alona Studio Hotel at Barangay Tawala, Panglao.

The Alona Embrace Hotel is at the center of an ownership dispute between Gonzaga and his mother-in-law, Condrada Blomqvist, widow, Filipino and Swedish citizen and resident of Tawala, Panglao.

Blomqvist sought legal assistance from Green after Gonzaga allegedly “forcibly excluded her” from the Alona Embrace Hotel and claimed ownership of her Toyota HiAce Commuter Van.   

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Police are set to file this week murder charges against the suspects even as hot pursuit operations are still underway, according to Olaivar.

PROFESSIONAL

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ASSASSINS

The cold-blooded slaying of the 49-year-old lawyer was executed by four gunmen in what police investigators described as a “military style operation” that occurred at the intersection of Zamora and JA Clarin Sts., Purok 6, Barangay(village) Dao, Tagbilaran City at 4:30PM on Wednesday.

Green was on her way home to Loon together with her 10-year-old daughter and three-year-old twins and their nanny who were all in the backseat of her Toyota Innova when she was waylaid by two motorcycle-riding men who blocked the path of her vehicle.

According to eyewitness accounts, three gunmen brazenly approached the stalled vehicle of Green who was behind the wheels and started firing at the driver’s seat.

The gunmen were all waiting in ambush, stationing themselves at a nearby store and a waiting shed across the highway, according to witnesses at the crime scene.

Responders from the Tagbilaran City Rescue Unit rushed Green to the Holy Name University Medical Center where she was reported to have expired two hours later. But according to the police, Green was declared dead on arrival (DOA).

HARRASSMENT

Court documents made available to the Chronicle traced the tragic killing of Green to a civil case filed by Blomqvist against her son-in-law, Gonzaga to nullify a deed of sale which she allegedly executed for the sale of a Toyota HiAce Commuter van.

But Gonzaga in his counter affidavit claimed that he purchased the van from Blomqvist using his father’s money and presented to the court an alleged deed of sale signed by Blomqvist and registration of the van in his name.

The claims of ownership of the van by both parties turned ugly when on August 19, 2016, Benigian together with Gonzaga and several armed goons allegedly tried to forcibly take possession of the van which was parked a short distance from the office of Green at Dampas District near the Barangay Hall.

Green requested for police assistance from the Tagbilaran City Police Station but was surprised when members of the Panglao Police arrived while units of the Highway Patrol Group and Tagbilaran City Police turned up later.

According to Green”s narration of the events as shown in court documents, the more than 20 police officers turned the area into a virtual “war zone” rattling the nerves of neighbors.

The swarm of police officers from three different units appeared clueless and helpless on what to do about the presence of Gonzaga and his alleged armed goons.

Blomqvist talked to the Chronicle after that incident but could not present documentary evidence except her bare allegations of the apparent bias of the police towards Gonzaga and his men. She showed up during an exclusive  Chronicle interview at Garden Cafe in bullet proof vest with several body guards.

The ownership case over the Alona Embrace Hotel is now being resolved by the DENR Community Environment and Resources Office (CENRO).

PUBLIC INDIGNATION

Various sectors in the province including the Catholic Church and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) have condemned the murder of Atty. Mia Mascariñas-Green and have called for justice.

Newly installed Bishop Abet Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran called the killing of Green “barbaric” as he called for the “speedy and just” resolution of the case.

“As bishop & father of the people of God of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, I am deeply saddened by the horrific shooting and murder of Atty. Mascariñas-Green right in front of her poor children,” said Uy.

Uy also called for unity among Boholanos and for the perpetrators to realize “the evil that they committed” as he condemned the brutal killing of Green.

“In communion with the generally God-fearing People of Bohol, I most strongly condemn this barbaric act of killing. I enjoin everyone to pray for the speedy and just resolution of the case,” said Uy.

The murder of the lady lawyer was highlighted during the State of the Province Address (SOPA) of Gov. Edgar Chatto last Friday where he ordered the police authorities to track down the perpetrators.

For his part, IBP-Bohol president Atty. Ted Lagang said that the organization has called on the Department of Justice to task the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a probe on the case.

The IBP has also declared February 17 as a day of mourning for Green who was gunned down on Wednesday by four assailants in Tagbilaran City.

All members of the organization’s chapter have been asked to wear black armbands to honor their fellow Boholano lawyer. The IBP-Bohol passed a resolution condemning the brutal murder as it demanded justice for the killing of their fellow lawyer. (Read the resolution elsewhere in this issue)

The Tagbilaran City Hall of Justice supported the cause and joined the day of mourning and protest.

On Saturday morning, employees of the Hall of Justice together with lawyers and people from various sectors marched through thoroughfares in Tagbilaran City until the Dampas Catholic Cemetery.

The slain lady lawyer was considered a “live wire” of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) where she started as a volunteer lawyer then later became a member of the board.

Because of her active role in defining environmental laws, no less than the United Nations Human Rights body will soon issue a statement asking for a full blown investigation on the murder of lawyer Mascariñas-Green. A strongly worded request was sent by the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) to the United Nations making known its strong condemnation on the murder of the lady lawyer.

The country’s biggest group of NGOs known as the Alternative Law Groups also issued a strongly worded statement denouncing the brutal and senseless killing of the crusading lawyer.

WHO’s “MIA?”

The 49-year old top-notch lawyer was considered as one of the pillars in defending the oppressed. This heart to help the less fortunate has been carved in her heart since a student at the Divine Word College of Tagbilaran (now Holy Name University) run by SVD fathers.

Judge Raul Barbarona, who passed the bar exams together with the lady lawyer in 1994 recalled that “Mae” organized the campus based Kristohanong Alyansa Para Itaguyod ang Tao(KAPIT), where she espoused her advocacy in defending the ordinary people who have less in life. She was a known leader of the calling of a group called the Authentic Christian Humanism Acting Non-Violent.

She graduated summa cum laude at the Divine Word College of Tagbilaran where she completed her accounting and law studies.

Aside from being a lawyer, she was also a certified public accountant.

More tributes to the slain lawyer-accountant are featured in Lifestyle-Bohol and at VRS of Leo Udtohan. (Chito M. Visarra and Allen Doydora)

 

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