Remulla says ‘breakthrough’ in 10 days on missing sabungeros case

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he expects a “significant breakthrough” in the case of 34 missing “sabungero” in the next 10 days.

A MOTHER’S PLEA. Maria Carmelita Lasco, 75, holds a portrait of her missing son Ricardo Lasco during a meeting with Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla at the Department of Justice on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. Lasco says she is not giving up hope of finding her son again. ‘I am torn between thinking that either my son is gone, or God is there, and that nothing is impossible with the Lord. I am not giving up even if it hurts so much,’ she said. Norman Cruz

Remulla, who met with family members of the cockfight enthusiasts who have mysteriously disappeared yesterday, said testimony from a possible witness could shed light on the case.

“As I said, evidence is very important. We have to build the cases properly for them to thrive in a court of law,” he said.

“I’m asking them [family members] to be patient because it’s not easy to gather the evidence here. But I was just telling them earlier, there will be breakthroughs and I think we have one breakthrough coming in the next 10 days and it is significant.”

“We will listen to a new testimony very soon. We have a meeting set for next week to discuss the potential witnesses. It will put [to rest] many of our doubts that we have,” Remulla added.

He, however, admitted that the evidence they have on hand is not yet enough to pinpoint the possible mastermind.

“The identification of a mastermind is not as easy as we want it to be because it has to be proven by the same iota of evidence needed especially to convict somebody,” he said.

In a report on ABS-CBN, Venancio Inonog, father of the missing sabungero John Claude Inonog, said on of the issues they raised during the meeting was Remulla’s earlier statement that the missing persons are already likely dead.

“They explained to us while that term had to be used, even as we are still hoping [they are alive]. At least that was clarified to us,” he said.

“We have to accept the truth and move on because we are now filing the case… You know, if we can get justice, then it is as if our loved ones have come to life again in the future,” Venancio added.

Remulla told the family members that while the presumption of death under the Civil Code is after seven years of disappearance, the same cannot be applied in criminal cases, especially in this case involving the missing sabungeros.

For 75-year-old Maria Carmelita Lasco, mother of missing Ricardo Lasco who was allegedly abducted from their house in San Pablo, Laguna by men who claimed to be NBI personnel in August 2021, she is not yet giving up on her search.

Relying on a wheelchair and armed with a photograph of her son, Lasco said she hopes the kidnappers would see her and be reminded that they are parents, too.

Last month, the Justice Department said it found sufficient basis to indict the three police officers for robbery and kidnapping following the disappearance of Lasco in Laguna.

The Philippine National Police said five officers were dismissed over the case, including the three being charged.

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