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Vice guv takes the witness stand in case vs. cult leader

| by: Xerxes Alkuino

Seeking justice for their son, the parents of the murdered teen sent a letter for Capitol’s help.

Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said this signaled the involvement of the Cebu Provincial Government in the cases filed against cult leader Casiano Apduhan.

Vice Gov Magpale’s testimony was offered to prove that the “evidence of guilt against the accused is strong” in a petition for bail hearing last February 18. She is the vice chair of the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children and Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC).

The vice governor stated that based on the letter and the personal accounts of the parents, she sent a letter to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 to confirm its veracity.

In the cross examination, Defense Lawyer Paulino Labrado underscored the absence of words “murder” or “kill” in her letter to the NBI 7.

Magpale answered she was just being “cautious” with her word. She reasoned she has no personal knowledge of the circumstances except the narration she got from the child parents Elueterio and Remegia Repuela.

Apduhan, whom his followers called “Dios Amahan,” was charged with murder for the death of 14 year-old boy Angelo Repuela. He was also charged with human trafficking.

Both cases were heard at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 29 in Toledo City.

Apduhan, a native of Balamban town, also faced illegal possession of firearms at RTC Branch 59, also in Toledo City. He was also charged with serious illegal detention for detaining Emma Bocabal Nepomuceno in his house for five (5) years.

Capitol PWC Consultant Heddah Largo also testified at Branch 59 to establish the role of PWC in the arrest of Apduhan and the rescue of Nepomuceno. The hearing was also in connection with the petitioner’s motion for bail.

Nepomuceno was rescued during the raid conducted by the NBI 7 last March. The remains of Angelo was also found in the vicinity of Apduhan’s house during the raid.

All four charges filed against Apduhan were non-bailable offenses. However, under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the court may grant the application of bail if the evidence against the accused is weak.

Angelo’s mother, Remegia, also testified in court. Labrado attempted to destroy the credibility of the witness. He said the witness does not know how to read and the staff of the Office of the Vice Governor was the one who executed the affidavit.

But Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Reynaldo Menchavez Jr. also manifested in Court that the content of the affidavit was being conveyed to Repuela.

“In the interest of justice,” Judge Altubar allowed Repuela to recount her observation of Angelo before his death. She said Angelo was “sickly” and “crying, and hinted at her that he had been beaten.

Apduhan’s co-accused Zacarias Barquio also pleaded not guilty to the crimes. The third co-accused Victor Fajardo is still at large.

The prosecution will present its third and last witness for the bail hearing next month.