Cult member charged

Task Force Arbet and a team of 16 lawyers from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) filed yesterday afternoon a murder case against Michel Favila Sr. and a companion for the death of lawyer Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Rolan-do Garcia said the lawyers reviewed the documents and evidence before the complaint was filed with the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor.

The second individual has yet to be identified.

The task force has six witnesses. Garcia clarified that they did not include the two witnesses previously placed under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7.

The two witnesses recanted their statements Monday night.

But Favila of Barangay Talaga, Cagayancillo, Palawan insists he didn’t kill Yongco, who was shot four times in the cheek and neck in her office last Oct. 11.

Task Force Arbet attached the affidavits of six witnesses in the charge sheet that City Prosecutor Cezar Tajanlangit will raffle for preliminary investigation this morning.

One of the witnesses, a 42-year-old truck driver, said he was a friend of Favila. Police earlier arrested him and the alleged gunman for illegal possession of firearms in Bacayan, Cebu City. The task force’s complaint came a day after two other witnesses recanted an earlier statement, given before the NBI 7, identifying another individual, not Favila, as Yongco’s gunman.

In an interview, Tajanlangit said the complaint against Favila will be subjected to preliminary investigation and that it will proceed regardless of whether another gunman is identified.

“There is only one complaint. We will act on that. If the NBI files a complaint against their own suspect, then we will evaluate it,” Tajanlangit said.

Lawyer Filemon Yongco, Arbet’s husband, executed an affidavit detailing how he and his utility worker were the first to see Arbet “bathed in her own blood” after the shooting.

Arbet’s student

The utility worker (name withheld upon agreement with the Public Information Office) also executed an affidavit on how he saw the gunman, whom he identified from police photos as Favila, while attempting to flee the crime scene on a red motorcycle somebody else was driving.

The task force also attached the affidavit of another witness, a 10-year-old girl, who picked out Favila’s photo from a bunch of others shown to her for confirmation.

She was Yongco’s pupil in Bible school and lived near Yongco’s house on Alcohol and Sikatuna Sts., Cebu City.

The girl said she saw the gunman as he, while taking out a firearm tucked in his waistband, entered Yongco’s office in the house.

She subsequently heard four muffled gunshots and then saw the gunman, still holding his weapon, walking outside the Yongco’s residence.

Bathed in blood

The gunman later tucked the firearm in his waistband and walked towards a parked motorcycle.

“Out of curiosity, I went to Atty. Yongco’s office, which was already half-open and, from my location, I peeped and saw a body of a woman, with long straight hair, lying on the floor bathed in her own blood,” she said.

Another witness, a 32-year-old electrician, also executed an affidavit detailing how he, while passing by the Yongco residence in Barangay Zapatera on his way to work, heard four muffled sounds.

He then saw a man, carrying a firearm, leaving the house and boarding a parked red motorcycle.

A 31-year-old neighbor also narrated how he saw the same man using a cell phone prior to the shooting at 8:45 a.m. last Oct. 11.

Suspect

NBI 4 Director Onos Mangutara told Sun.Star yesterday that Favila arrived in their office at 2 p.m. last Monday to clear his name.

Favila reportedly learned from ministers of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) that he was being tagged as a suspect in the Yongco murder.

Mangutara said they offered to keep Favila in their office until investigators from Cebu arrive, for his safety. But Favila said he has to go back to Roxas, Palawan to take care of some things.

He will be back in Puerto Princesa City today.

Favila reportedly said he will stay in Puerto Princesa for five days and leave if no one comes to investigate him.

“He was very willing. In fact, he traveled two days by pumpboat from Cagayancillo Island just to be here,” Mangutara said.

Records

Favila told Mangutara that for the last five years, he has been in Palawan Province and has not been to Cebu.

This is contrary to police records that show he was arrested in Cebu City in July last year for illegal possession of firearms. The case was dismissed and he was released.

Manugtara said Favila was a short man, between 40 and 45 years old, with short hair and a beard.

The description matches the photo police have on Favila.

PRO 7 Director Garcia said, though, that Favila’s appearance at the NBI 4 will not affect their case.

They are not even sure if it was Favila who appeared at the NBI office in Puerto Princesa.

Garcia said they considered the case solved until new evidence comes up.

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