Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Former Batangas Gov. Leviste convicted on homicide raps

The conviction of former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste on homicide charges comes just a few weeks after Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr. et al were charged by Delfin Dela Paz et al for the mauling incident at the Valley Golf and Country Club.

There is no real relation between the two stories except that both involve local government executives who figured in a violent incident and both claimed that they were defending themselves.

The verdict handed down today by Judge Elmo Alameda of Branch 50 of the Makati City regional trial court meted Leviste with a jail term of from 6 to 12 years and ordered him to pay P100,000 in damages. The former Batangas Governor claimed that he killed his aide Rafael Delas Alas in self-defense during an argument on Jan. 12, 2007, at his office at the LPL Tower in Legaspi Village, Makati City.

He could have gone scot-free on the grounds of self-defense, except for the fact that one bullet would have been enough to stop an attack and he shot his former aide five times. Another point which made the self-defense a bit harder to buy into was that it was not proven that Leviste's aide had fired a gun at him.

The gun purportedly used by Delas Alas was never submitted for ballistics examination, nor was the victim subjected to a paraffin test to prove that he had fired back.

More to the point, photos of Delas Alas body showed that he was sitting behind a desk. Forensic evidence is silent on whether he was shot while he was seated behind his desk or if his attacker was standing up.

What was the trajectory of the bullet? How far away from the victim was the attacker? The answers are simply missing.

The decision on Leviste's case will not have any bearing on the case lodged against Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, who like the Leviste claims self-defense. But then again, the decision on Leviste somehow illustrates what self-defense is and is not.

Shooting a man five times is not self-defense, especially if the one claiming self-defense cannot prove that he was being attacked.

Parrying or blocking a blow from someone wielding a golf umbrella is self-defense. Six men beating up one old man is not self-defense, it is an act of revenge.

Anyway, as a result of the verdict, Leviste will be taken to the Makati City Jail -- having been out on bail during the whole time that the case against him was being heard. His lawyer has appealed for a 15 day extension of his bail, citing humanitarian grounds.

In contrast, truck and bus drivers who kill people due to reckless imprudence often have to stay in jail while their cases are being heard because they don't have money hire a good lawyer and post bail.

Leviste has little to fear about going to the Makati City Jail. It is perhaps a relatively cleaner prison compared to the notorious New Bilibid Prison. Certainly, a rich and influential man like Leviste will be able to pay for a lot of privileges that ordinary prisoners do not have.

Perhaps Congressman Romeo Jalosjos, Mayor Antonio Sanchez, and Claudio Teehankee Jr. can give Leviste a couple of insider tips. Maybe, even former President Joseph Estrada (who was convicted of plunder) can tell Leviste how to get a Presidential pardon.

As long as we are talking about politics, let me mention that when news about Leviste shooting Delas Alas broke out, one of the first people asked to comment on the incident was Senator Loren Legarda -- who was then running for Senator after her failed attempt at the Vice Presidency in 2004.

I don't remember if I heard Legarda speaking on a live interview on AM radio, but I remember her presaging her comment with an admission that she had been estranged from Leviste for quite some time -- distancing herself from her husband who was also her major political and financial benefactor.

Perhaps it was sound judgement, from a political standpoint. Perhaps her heart bled and her eyes teared up just like St. Peter when he realized that he had denied Jesus Christ three times. Who knows?


English To Tagalog The Blog said...

Leviste wasn't a local executive at the time of the crime, was he?

Admin said...

I get your point there, I don't think he was a local government executive at that time.

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