Pandemic slows Mascariñas murder trial

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Pandemic slows Mascariñas murder trial

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The persisting COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the progression of the murder trial of Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga, the primary suspect in the gruesome killing of environmental lawyer Mia Mascariñas-Green, a lawyer for the prosecution team said.

Prosecution lead counsel Teodoro Lagang on Friday last week said Gonzaga’s camp repeatedly appealed for the postponement of the hearings due to their inability to personally cross-examine witnesses amid movement restrictions imposed due to the health crisis.  

The pandemic has been noted to have put further strain on the nation’s justice system, which has already been notoriously slow even before the virus outbreak in the country.

“Nagsige og pa-postpone tong akusado sa pikas sa rason na gusto silang mo attender g’yud sa hearing na personal g’yud niyang ma cross-examine amoang witness,” said Lagang.

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“Di man sija kampante kung virtual ra, kay video conference man untay amoa ana,” he added.

Gonzaga has been accused of being the mastermind in the 2017 killing of Mascariñas-Green who was shot dead in a busy Tagbilaran City street by multiple gunmen while she was driving a car with her three underage daughters in the backseat.

Mascariñas Green, who represented Gonzaga’s opponent in a land dispute case prior to her death, was shot 28 times.

According to Lagang, they do not intend to counter the defense’s appeal to personally cross-examine their witnesses.

“Lisod man pud og pugson namo, kay basin gamiton nila pohon na wa sila hatagi og opportunity to confront personally the witnesses,” said Lagang.

Gonzaga who remains detained at the Tagbilaran City Jail is being represented by Davao-based lawyer Ranuelo Leonor who has to travel to Bohol for court hearings.

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Leonor replaced the late Philip Pantojan, who was known for being a lawyer of the Amputuan clan, after his death.

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Lagang said that the trial moved smoothly and the prosecution was able to present nine witnesses before the pandemic broke out early last year.

“Kanang nine witnesses, dunay instances na one witness duha ka hearingan unja prior to the presentation of the witnesses, dunay mga hearing of motions so daghan-daghan na tang naagian na,” he added.

Gonzaga was arrested in Davao City in July 2017, five months after the killing of Mascariñas-Green.

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Meanwhile, another suspect, Romarico Benigi-an, remains at large. (A. Doydora)

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