BANGUED, Abra – Concerned citizens of the province called on Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to look into the alleged non-filing of the murder charges against Rep. Joseph Sto. Nino Bernos and his father, former provincial boardmember Andres Bernos, for their alleged involvement in the murder of an individual whom they suspect as the one responsible for the robbery that was done in their jewelry shop.
In a hand written letter to Justice Secretary Guevarra dated April 23, 2019, the concerned residents of Abra, who requested anonymity for security reasons, requested the justice department to investigate on what happened to NPS document No. 1-06-INV-15L-00297 entitled “National bureau of Investigation, as complainant, versus Joseph Sto. Nino Bernos and Andres Bernos, respondents’ which had allegedly been shelved for still unknown reasons.
The resolution penned by former Acting Provincial Prosecutor of Abra Rommel G. Calupig dated April 4, 2016 recommended the filing of information for murder against the Bernoses for their involvement in the murder of an individual whom they suspect as the one who robbed their jewelry shop in the capital town.
The resolution found the existence of probable cause against the Bernoses as alleged principals by inducement and conspiracy with Jacobo Badua, the principal by direct participation for the murder of Joel Afos.
However, as to the killing of William Sagun and Ruben Afos, the case filed against the respondents was order dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.
As taxpayers and residents of Abra and constituents of the public official, the concerned citizens asserted their right to be informed and updated on the status of the said case for them to be guided accordingly.
Records showed that Joel Afos alias Mateo Afos died in July 2002 and as per autopsy report dated July 28, 2004, the cause of his death was homoerotic shock secondary to multiple gunshot wounds.
Subsequently, a certain Jacobo Badua executed a sworn statement admitting or confessing to the fact that he was the one who shot the victim and that the same confession seems to have been duly assisted by a counsel.
As a consequence of Badua’s confession, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of La Union issued a resolution finding probable cause against Badua but dismissed the cases filed against the Bernoses, particularly the partial resolution dated September 11, 2013.
On December 8, 2015, Mario Siubal,, a resident of barangay Canal, la Paz, Abra, executed his own sworn statement and alleged that he was a former driver of the Bernos family of la Paz, particularly from 1997 until 2002.
He was earlier tasked to drive for the older Bernos and his wife before being asked to drive for the sons of the Bernos couple.
Sioban’s affidavit stated that he was later allegedly asked by Joseph Bernos to kill a certain Joel Afos whom the family suspected to have stole in their jewelry shop in Bangued and that he perpetrated the crime sometime in May 2002.
Because he was bothered by his conscience because Joel was his god son, he did not follow the orders to kill Joel Afos and after the lapse of two months, he saw Badua in the house of the Bernoses in La Paz.
While the respondents were talking to Badua, he overheard the former ordering Badua to kill Afos to give him a lesson and that he further saw Joseph handing over to Badua a firearm and instructing the latter to use the same in the perpetration of the crime.
Badua served the Bernos family as a bodyguard ahead of Sioban based on the said affidavit that he issued.
Later on, Sioban was informed that Afos died due to gunshot wounds and a few days after, while he was inside the house of the Bernos family, he again saw Badua handing the same firearm which had been handed to him by Joseph. While Badua was there, he told Joseph that his order was allegedly accomplished.
In their joint counter-affidavit, the respondents denied the accusations hurled against them, branding them as false and malicious having no factual and legal basis.
They claimed that a similar complaint against them was dismissed by the Provincial Prosecutor of Abra dated September 11, 2013 for insufficiency of evidence and that the private complainant did not file a motion for reconsideration or an appeal within the reglamentary period to revive the case.
Further, they claimed that the credibility of the new witness, Mario Sioban, is a suspect considering that the affidavit he executed implicating them was more than 13 years after the death of the victim, more so because the delay in executing the same remain unexplained and that more the others remain unexplained, and all the others thereof are purely fabricated and remain untruthful.
Moreover, the new witness merely corroborated the earlier statement of Badua which confession by the latter had already been allegedly retracted, hence, without the earlier narration of Badua, the statement of Sioban has no leg to stand on.
The resolution asserted that the NBI holds the position that the dismissal of the previous complaint against the respondents to the filing of a similar complaint because no double jeopardy attaches in preliminary investigation. Likewise, they claimed that the delay in the execution of Sioban implicating the respondents did not affect his credibility because he was able to satisfactorily explain his failure to immediately report the same.
The resolution added that the recantation made by Badua did not affect the instant case considering that the same recantation is, as a general rule, looked upon with disfavour.
Banner photo of Provincial Hall in Bangued, Abra by Raani Paranas, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.