DOJ urged to resolve murder raps over 2016 Lanao del Norte attack

MANILA Lanao del Norte (2nd District) Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) for prompt action on the murder cases filed in connection with the death of a 73-year-old clan matriarch in an armed attack in the province in 2016.

In his letter made public on Friday, Dimaporo noted the need for prompt action on the case to forestall a "rido" or clan war.

On Apr. 22, 2016 at around 5 p.m., heavily-armed men attacked the residential compound of the Umpa clan in Purok 4, Poblacion, Salvador town. The attack resulted in the death of the clan matriarch Salam Uma Bangcola who was shot in the head.

Eyewitnesses during the attack identified men of a certain Johnny Tawantawan in sworn statements before the National Bureau of Investigation in Iligan. The NBI later identified the respondents and filed the murder cases before the DOJ in Manila.

"Even in their moment of grief, I convinced them to pursue the rule of law in seeking justice for the death of their mother and do not put the law into their hands. As the clan is big, they are capable of taking revenge against the perpetrators of the ambush and thereby putting under chaos the whole town of Salvador," Dimaporo said in his letter.

On July 11, 2016, a DOJ panel of prosecutors, composed of Robert Ong, Michell Oliva and Benito Sales III, was formed to conduct a preliminary investigation.

On May 17, 2017, the panel issued a resolution of the cases finding probable cause of murder and attempted murder against 30 of the 48 respondents.

The 30 indicted respondents filed a petition for review before the DOJ and in January 2018, a joint resolution was issued dismissing the cases against all the respondents, claiming that the evidence of the complainant is weak and the respondents' defense of alibi should be given more evidence.

In February 2018, the justice department issued another joint resolution granting a motion for reconsideration, finding probable cause and reinstating the case.

In June, another joint resolution was issued dismissing the case against all the respondents, prompting an appeal before the Office of the President.

"This issue is of the essence to me because the named respondents are the same personalities who continuously spread violence in said town of Salvador," Dimaporo said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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