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Friday, June 14, 2024

Remulla: DOJ will still pursue ‘sabungeros’ case

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday vowed to pursue criminal cases involving the missing “sabungeros” or cockfight enthusiasts despite the issuance of an affidavit of desistance by a family member of one of the victims.

“We’re not letting go of anything. The state can still continue the case even with the desistance of the families,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said, in an interview.

A family member of one of the missing “sabungeros” has issued an affidavit of desistance asking the DOJ to drop the charges in court against the suspects.

“The person executed an affidavit of desistance in case number one,” Remulla said. “Among the eight cases involving the missing ‘sabungeros’ being prosecuted, case number one is the only case where a warrant of arrest has been issued against suspects related to the Manila Arena,” Remulla lamented.

The DOJ chief said that “case number one” has six accused persons, including a certain Julie Patidongan. He, however, did not give the names of the five other suspects and the names of the victims.

Earlier, the Philippine National Police had disclosed that a total of 34 “sabungeros” have been missing since 2021.

The affidavit of desistance “is very alarming because this is the only case where accused Patidongan and others are implicated in the missing ‘sabungero’ cases,” Remulla said.

“You can see the strategy of the lawyers of the accused in case number one was really to have the only standing case with the standing warrant of arrests dismissed by settling with the families,” he added.

However, Remulla said the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service through Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony D. Fadullon had already
replied and said “we cannot dismiss them if these people have not surrendered to the jurisdiction of the court or the DOJ.”

Remulla also revealed that a family of a missing sabungero received a P20-million offer to withdraw their complaint, but turned it down.

“Like what the Lasco family said earlier, they were offered money. They didn’t accept it because they could not handle the feeling of
spending the money they would have obtained from their brother’s absence,” Remulla said.

When asked how much was offered, Remulla answered, “P20 million.”

The Justice Secretary likened the offer to “blood money.”

“The world tradition here is, right, in other countries, this is called blood money. We are looking at this angle… on the acceptance of
such money to stop the conflict in such cases,” Remulla said.

Three former police officers are facing kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and robbery with violence charges, in connection with the
alleged kidnapping of e-sabong master agent Ricardo Lasco.

Police Patrolman  Rigel Brosas and Police Staff Sergeant Daryl Paghangaan surrendered to the Philippine National Police-Integrity
Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG) Team 4-A on January 19.

Former Police Corporal Roy Navarete, meanwhile, voluntarily surrendered at the Calauan Municipal Police Station in Laguna on
January 21.

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