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Fugitive ex-Ecija mayor hiding in Metro condo?

December 31, 2012

GAPAN CITY – A former three-term mayor of this city who has gone into

Gapan City

Gapan City

hiding since last February after a warrant for his arrest was issued by a Manila court in connection with the raid of a cockpit arena here six years ago, may be somewhere in the metropolitan area.

This was disclosed by the family of Cristina Pascual whose sons Erickson and Ebertson were killed in the cockpit attack.

Emerson Pascual, brother of the two Pascuals, told reporters that they have received information that former mayor Ernesto Natividad, the alleged brains in the killing of Erickson and Ebertson, is hiding at an undisclosed condominium in the metropolis.

“He’s just in Manila based on a highly reliable information we received,” Emerson said of the fugitive ex-mayor.

Natividad, his late brother Romeo, Ricardo Peralta and 16 others were placed on a hold-departure order by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) last February on orders of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 8 Judge Felixberto Olalia Jr.

The Pascual family has raised a P1 million reward each for the arrest of ex-mayor Natividad and Peralta.

Natividad was mayor of this city for three terms from 2001 to 2010. In May 2010, he fielded his wife Baby to succeed him but she lost to his former ally, incumbent Mayor Christian Tinio by landslide.

Others in the HDO were civilians Rommel Baying, Jenny Canlas, Jonathan Cartujano, Dalia Cruz, Romeo Dacles, Jovert Dumlao, Frangilico Gerona, Randy Gerona, Elly Macariola, Dennis Matias, Crisanto Mateo, Sienna Quiambao, Cristina Gerardo Peratel, Lloyd Perez, Randy Puno and Lorenzo Rueda.

Romeo died while in hiding while Dacles was caught in Muntinlupa two months ago.

Last January 25, the court issued a warrant for the arrest of Natividad and the others in connection with the murder cases filed against them over the killing of the Pascual brothers inside the Gapan cockpit arena owned by the Pascuals in 2006. The siblings are scions of Rodrigo “Boy” Pascual, a bitter political rival of Natividad.

The elder Pascual challenged Natividad but lost in the 2007 polls. One of Natividad’s daughters is challenging the reelection bid of reelectionist Mayor Tinio in the 2013 polls.

The Department of Justice initially ordered the filing of murder charges against the suspects in 2009 and forwarded these to the Office of the Ombudsman for review.

On February 10, 2009, the Office of the Ombudsman affirmed the DOJ ruling. But when the two Natividads and Peralta filed a motion for reconsideration, then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez reversed her ruling on April 8,2009, excluding the three from the charge sheet.

Mrs. Pascual appealed the Ombudsman ruling.

On November 25, 2011, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause and ordered the filing of murder charges against the two Natividads and Peralta, in effect reversing a 2009 ruling of her predecessor Gutierrez and granting the motion for reconsideration of Mrs. Pascual.

The latest Ombudsman ruling said the DOJ ruling should have been affirmed outright because the three filed their motions for reconsideration way too late, thus rendering as final and executory the Ombudsman’s February 10 ruling affirming the DOJ’s findings.

The murder cases were eventually transferred to the sala of Manila RTC Branch 10 Judge Virgilio Alameda who last September 17 also found probable cause against Natividad and Peralta based on the records of the preliminary investigation and affirmed the findings of both the Office of the Ombudsman and the DOJ. – Manny Galvez

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