Solons probe on missing P20M reward money in Batocabe slay case

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – When AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his police escort PO3 Rolando Diaz were murdered on December 22, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte offered P20 million reward for the capture of the assailants.

In addition, Batocabe’s colleagues in the House of Representatives (HOR) collectively gave P13 million, while the Albay Provincial Government sent out P2 million, making the overall amount of cash bounty to P35 million pesos.

But during the inquiry of the House Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday (November 20), PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Dir. P/BGen. Joel Coronel revealed that only P13M from the said amount were handed to the CIDG and the Intelligence Group which they distributed to credible witnesses in the crime.

From the said amount, P6M was given to witness Emmanuel Judavar and to seven other witnesses who requested anonymity.

Two of them received P2M each, another two received P1M each, one witness received P500,000, and another two witnesses received P250,000 each.

But the CIDG couldn’t present a breakdown of the distribution of the P20M cash reward that the President provided.

Coronel said the money, which they believed was received by then PNP Chief now-retired General Oscar Albayalde, was not turned over to them.

“The records of the distribution and liquidation of which were submitted directly to the Office of the President and I do not have the record, it did not pass through the CIDG,” explained Coronel when asked by Senator Koko Pimentel as to what happened to the reward money.

Pimentel argued that the said amount must be liquidated because it came from the Office of the President, therefore, it is ‘tax money.’

In response to a text message from UNTV, Albayalde sternly denied that he accepted the missing reward money.

“Lahat iyan na kay CIDG at IG. Wala akong hinawakan na reward money! Huwag nilang hanapin sa akin yan! (They are with CIDG and IG. I did not accept any reward money! They shouldn’t ask me that),” he said in a text message.

AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. did not buy CIDG’s argument thus he said he is determined to push through with the investigation.

“We have a second hearing wherein former Chief PNP will be invited at ang tatlo pang (and the three other) witnesses na nakatanggap ng (who also received cash) bounty, at ang PD ng (as well as the Police Director of) Albay, Col Asueta to shed light on the P2-million,” Garbin said.

“Three suspects din sila (They are considered three of the suspects) and we have to confirm on them kung magkano talaga ang kanilang na-receive (how much they really received),” he added.

During the inquiry earlier today (November 21), lawmakers agreed that General Albayalde should also be subpoenaed and be cited in contempt should he refused to appear in the next hearing.

The recent retraction of the three suspects favoring former Daraga Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo dismayed the late Batocabe’s son Atty. Justin Batocabe.

The younger Batocabe suspected that money is working behind their backs.

“Iyan na nga po ang nakakabahala dyan. Nasulot (That’s what I was expecting. They were swayed to pull back),” he said.

“Ang balita sa akin ay nabayaran daw para bumaliktad at tinakot and at the same time binigyan ng abogado (I was informed that they were bribed to retract their statements and they were even provided with lawyers),” he said referring to the suspects. – MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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