Police files murder charges vs 4 over Olayvar slay
by Rey Anthony Chiu
Tagbilaran City (8 October) -- TWENTY-seven days after receiving the order to seal the case against the assassins of erstwhile Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon (Humabol) Chairman and Bohol Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Chairman Victor Olayvar, the task force assigned to handle the case filed murder charges against 3 notorious police characters and another case of accessory to murder to an “alleged” former member of the communist’s New People’s Army.
And for the past days, police authorities have finally pieced together a puzzle that had the government supporters and militant organizations trading accusations on their hand in muddling the settling peace situation in Bohol.
After poring over “unreliable sworn accounts” from witnesses, adulterated evidence and discordant leads fed to investigators from different media, police now have a motive: vendetta.
Key witness, 46 year old Adela Membrillos from Buenavista and residing in San Carlos, Danao said that in 1991, a brother of the Betasas, named Joseph, was summarily executed by the members of the NPAs for engaging in notorious activities contrary to revolutionary laws.
The brothers of the slain Joseph, identified as Marlou and Virgo soon alleged that their brother’s death was a handiwork of the Humabol members who recommended for Joseph’s execution.
Membrillos added that Humabol members and their families became targets of harassments and intimidation by the Betasas shortly before they escaped to Mindanao in 2003.
In 2004, and from their Mindanao sortie, the Betasas came home with unidentified companions and the intimidations and harassment started again, the 46 year old Humabol organizer and surrenderee stated.
“It started by poking their firearms to five persons in separate instances during the day”, Membrillos recalled in her signed affidavit.
One such victim, Alfredo Bingas burned his neck when Virgo Betasa accordingly fired his gun and pressed the hot barrel into his neck for being accused of responsible in killing their brother.
A certain Antonio Bingas Jr. also suffered multiple bullet wounds when Virgo Betasa, aided by a certain Jesryl Bautista and Crisanto Suello accosted the farmers’ group members. Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman Jonathan Avelino was also hit on that attack.
“On that particular incident, Virgo shouted in public that it was their initial hit and would be followed to eliminate the members…being responsible for the death of their brother,” Membrillos said.
With what she heard that night, she accordingly reported to Humabol office so members would not put down their guards.
In fact, until now, the Betasa brothers still roam around with armed companions that frighten the barangay residents because of their continuous threats, Membrillos stated.
Unconfirmed reports said that the Betasas run to Mindanao when their activities in Danao have made them NPA targets.
In Mindanao, the duo organized a gun for hire organization along with shadowy characters. They accordingly came back in 2004.
Suspect Virgo Betasa owns pending arrest warrants for frustrated murder issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 52 Judge Irma Zita Masamayor dated January 24, 2006 and another by Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Avelino Puracan last September 12, 2005. His brother Marlou Betasa has another pending arrest warrant for a similar case issued by Judge Masamayor in January of 2006. The other suspect, Neil Logronio is also wanted for rape and has another pending arrest warrant issued by Judge Masamayor in June 1997.
All three suspects have remained at large while police have in their custody Roldan Torres for being an accessory to the Olayvar slay crime last September 7 in Barangay Cantubod in Danao.
Police provincial director, PSsupt. Arturo Evangelista forwarded the murder complaints against brothers Marlou and Virgo Betasa and Neil Logronio as well as accessory to murder against Roldan Torres to Assistant Provincial prosecutor Macario Delusa October 4.
Earlier, crime witnesses aided cartographers in rendering the sketches of the three assassins who patiently waited for the victim to cross the bridge on that fateful morning.
Murder witness Olayvar Joselito Ayag, the one who drove the day he died, positively identified the suspects and in a supplemental affidavit, bared that he saw the same persons the night before Olayvar died, them pretending to be customers in Torres’ videoke.
Ayag also personally identified the Torres’ red Krypton motorcycle now with fixed brakelight cover as one of the two escape vehicles. In earlier affidavit, he said the motorcycle has broken tail lights.
Independent news sources also tell that Roldan Torres initially lived in a house owned by the Betasas, a fact that supports the claim that the Betasas rely on Torres for information, him being their local contact.
While some Danao witnesses, were not able to identify the suspects in their affidavits, independent fact finding teams believe that inconsistencies in the witness statements could be fed by fear, them knowing that the crime involved notorious local guys.
The government fact-finding team noted that the only reason why the military in the nearby detachment did not accost the waylaying suspects is because they were local boys who could never rouse interest.
Human rights group Karapatan, in their fact-finding mission questioned the military in the detachment for failure to react with the “new faces in the area” before the crime. With this, they presumed the military has a hand in the crime.
With the charges, Bayan Muna Provincial Coordinator John Ruiz III insists in a text statement that the suspects are mere fall guys, pointing to the fact that witnesses should have identified the Betasa brothers, in their notoriety.
Despite the development, Governor Erico Aumentado has endorsed all the Olayvar murder documents to the government initiated Melo Commission Monday.
President Gloria Macapagal arroyo appointed the Melo Commission, aided by international human rights observers to conduct investigations and establish validity of the militant propaganda that she has a hand in the systematic neutralization of vocal critics against her Administration.
With the pendency of the case filed in court, the Melo Commission may also initiate their own investigations to finally settle the matter. (PIA) [top]