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Caramoan massacre suspects charged with murder; DOJ to include Tria III

CARAMOAN, Camarines Sur—“I am the happiest woman in the world,” exclaimed Mercy Sueno, Punong Barangay of Gata, this town, when she learned that the 21 suspects in the infamous Caramoan massare were recommended for indictment by the Department of Justice.

The wife of one of the victims of the Caramoan massacre bawls hysterically before the coffin of her husband who was slain allegedly by members of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan of the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur.
Photo: Oscar Esmenda/Bicol Standard
In an exclusive interview by BICOL STANDARD, Sueno said that she is a little bit relieved by the pains she suffered due the murder of at least four of her constituents.

The Special Panel of Prosecutors issued a resolution that found probable cause against the Sagip Kalikasan Task Force (SKTF) for the crime of murder that led to the death of four gold panners at Sitio Campo, Barangay Gata.

The victims in the case were Julio Labiano, Rene Labiano, Salem Virtuz and Jesse Brondia.
Meanwhile, charged with murder are Jose Breso, Sevillano Espares, Jr., Francisco “Iko” Tria III, and eighteen John Does.

The investigators gave weight to the testimonies of the eyewitness and several corroborating witnesses, plus the seven others, who pinpointed to the abovementioned suspects as the alleged perpetrators of the crime.

In the same interview, Sueno said that at around 11:30 a.m. on the day the crime was committed, she had a heated altercation with Tria III on the activities of SKTF.

She said that Tria III even threatened her that he will be back together with his men to enforce what they want.

Sueno said that this incident with Tria III was witnessed by the residents of Gata. One the evening of the same day (March 22, 2014), the four men were massacred.

The Department of Justice’s panel of  investigators observed that the perpetration of the crime, Breso Espares, Jr. together with eighteen other unidentified suspects ensured that they would not be identified.

The Special Panel of Prosecutors, however, recommended the dismissal of the case against Angelo Refran, Luis Palaganas, Saetiel Pielago, Johan Bolima and Florencio Vargas, whose names were originally included in the complaint.

The records of the case show that the said respondents (Refran, Palaganas, Pielago, Bolima and Vargas) did not directly participate in the killing of the victims. Neither were they found to have conspired, concurred in, or participated towards the unified purpose of respondents Tria III, Breso and Espares in the killing of the victims.

The criminal information for murder has been filed against Breso and Espares.

As far as Tria III is concerned, the DOJ said it will amend the information to include him in the charge for murder.


The DOJ Central Office, it would be recalled, took over the Caramoan massacre investigation in September 2014.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM. Pirming enot. Pirming bago.

Bicol Standard

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