Murder raps filed vs suspects in Atty. Mia’s ambush-slay; PRO 7 to probe Panglao, City police
Amid public suspicion that the police and certain fiscals here were allegedly coddling criminals and had aided the perpetrators of grisly killing of a helpless mother-lawyer to flee Bohol before they can be arrested, murder and multiple attempted murder charges were finally filed on Friday before the prosecutor’s office here.
Filed at 4:58 pm Friday at the City Fiscal’s Office, the complaint sheet has identified the prime suspects in the February 15 ambush and murder of Atty. Mia Manuelita Mascariñas-Green, in the presence of her three young children at Dao, Tagbilaran, as Lloyd Lancer Gonzada, presumed proprietor of Alona Embrace Hotel in Tawala, Panglao, and a certain Romanico Benigian, all of Tagum, Davao del Norte.
The murder suits were filed three days after Green was laid to her final rest on Tuesday amid public outcry for justice and amid plans of the Regional PNP Office to investigate the complacency of both Panglao and City police officials who were allegedly observed as “close friends” of the suspects.
Thousands of grieving Boholanos were seen weeping inside the St. Joseph Cathedral in Tagbilaran City as the lifeless body of Atty. Mascariñas-Green was brought out of the church for her final resting place in Dampas Cemetery, this city.
CASE AND MYSTERY
The complaints were docketed as NPS NR 14-INV-17B-05 for murder and NPS-NR 14-INV-17-057 for multiple attempted murder.
Amid a tight security measure provided for the witnesses to one of Bohol’s most shocking crimes in recent memory, the police have requested not to divulge the identities of the witnesses.
Supt. George A. Vale, Camp Dagohoy’ designated spokesperson for this particular case, said the manhunt operation on Gonzaga and Benigian, who are not Boholanos, has been halted as the case was already filed before the prosecutor’s office.
“Let us now wait for the arrest warrant that is expected to be issued by the fiscal’s office,” Vale told the Bohol Tribune yesterday.
Vale called on Gonzaga and Benigian to show up and face the court charges.
The two were tagged as prime suspects in the brutal killing of Atty. Green based on several accounts of witnesses and persons familiar with the case being handled by the slain lawyer which involved Gonzaga and his mother-in-law, Conrada Gubalani Otero Blomqvist, in a dispute involving a P100-million resort hotel in Tawala, Panglao.
Blomqvist had alleged that Gonzaga had faked documents in order to grab from her the ownership of the property.
In several media interviews in Cebu City, Blomqvist had accused both the Panglao and City Police as alleged protectors of Gonzaga and his cohorts.
Gonzaga was known to have thrown lavish parties at Alona Embrace Hotel in the presence of local Panglao officials, fiscals and judges, NBI agents, and other influential figures in the province.
The case involving Gonzaga and Blomnqvist was supposed to be Atty. Green’s last and final battle before she would retire from the legal profession in order to focus her time on taking care of her two-year-old twins and her 10-year-old daughter.
According to several sources, both Blomqvist and Atty. Green had requested help from both the Panglao and City Police for protection following the alleged death threats made by Gonzaga, but reports said the request for help was always ignored.
In October last year, Gonzaga and Benigian were subject of a search warrant and were arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in a well-planned raid.
Packs of shabu, hand grenades, and high-caliber weapons were seized from the suspects.
But a provincial fiscal, citing “technical reasons,” immediately cancelled and invalidated the search warrant and dropped the charges against Gonzaga and Benigian, and the two were released from police detention.
Loved ones and friends have blamed the fiscal for thrashing the case against Gonzaga and Benigian.
“Buhi pa unta si Atty. Mia kung wala pa gi-dismiss sa maong fiscal ang maong kaso batok ni Gonzaga ug Benigian,” a relative of Atty. Mia told media in several interviews.
Meanwhile, the family of Atty. Green had released an official statement, expressing their infinite grief and sadness over the tragic loss of what many have considered a “Bol-anon hero.”
The Bohol Tribune finds it appropriate to publish the exact text of the official statement of Atty. Mia’s family.
Statement from the Family of Atty. Mia
On February 15, 2017, Atty. Mia, environmental, women’s and children’s rights lawyer, was brutally and mercilessly gunned down by several assailants in the presence of her three young children.
We, Atty. Mia’s family, remain steadfast in our quest for justice, buoyed by our faith that the authorities are doing everything in their power to bring the perpetrators and their accomplices to justice.
We would like to thank the thousands of people from all walks of life – the fishers, farmers, tricycle drivers, community workers, public servants, civil society members, religious groups, the young and old, men and women – who shared their love, prayers, flowers, gifts and time during the wake for Atty. Mia at the family home. We have received so many precious stories, gifts and kind words from them, as well as the whole Boholano, Philippine and international community.
Though words don’t adequately describe the person that Atty. Mia was or the life that she lived, we put together the following four vignettes that we hope collectively capture her courage, caring nature, generous heart and beautiful spirit.
Please join us as we continue to honor and celebrate her life and legacy.
- She was a born advocate
Mia began as a student activist very early in her life and during her school days, this culminated with her playing a role as a student activist during the time of the EDSA revolution.
From a young age, Mia always believed that everyone, young or old, rich or poor had rights and that ultimately the legal system would work for them. Anyone who walked into her office deserved time
and her support and she looked after her clients very well.
Once Mia took on a case, she very passionately pursued the interests of her clients and would rarely be deterred from staying true to her promise to be fair while also making a difference in people’s lives.
- She was a woman of character, fearless in her convictions
During her life there were at least four attempts (all of which wholesale failed) at having her disbarred. She even received death threats, but she said that getting a death threat was to some extent just part of the job of being a lawyer. Being a professional she just brushed it off, saying that as a lawyer you should not make it personal, even if others were trying to make it so.
We always thought that a death threat was usually a signal that someone was upset and something was wrong, so she would re-evaluate the situation accordingly. But she never backed down from any situation, dutifully doing her work and faithfully following the creed of her profession as a lawyer.
- She was a devoted mother
She was a very caring mother who always put her children first in everything. She loved her children very much and insisted on being present for every event in their young life, whether a birthday (she and Stuart had monthly birthdays for each of their three children), or any special event, school reading, play or family event.
The children were the center of her life. She ensured that every activity, whether eating, drinking milk, waking up, going to sleep and especially bathing time was always a fun event for her 10-year-old daughter, Zoe Grace, and 23-month-old twins Eli James and Zia Grace. She experienced losing her mother when she was 4 years old, so she made sure she always had time for her children. Unfortunately, history has repeated itself.
As she was massacred in public she did not bother to look at her assailants, but instead she turned to look back and check that her children were ok.
- She leaves behind a precious legacy
The rights of the poor and communities, and a belief that the beautiful province of Bohol is truly a place where people should be able to live, where rights are respected and we all live in harmony with the culture, beauty and natural resources that Bohol provides.
We hope that this legacy will forever inspire the community of people who fondly call and remember her as “Atty. Mia,” the very fair lady who would always be on call at any time of day or night to help out with any situation.
We are confident that it will live on through her children, Zoe, Eli and Zia, who will be raised to remember their mother as a very strong, principled and fair leader, and a great role model.