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Gunman convicted in attempted murder of broadcaster

(CMFR/IFEX) - 17 July 2012 - A Makati City court has convicted the gunman in the attempt on the life of a Cagayan de Oro City-based radio broadcaster of frustrated murder last June 2012. The decision dated 4 June 2012 was promulgated on 28 June 2012. Makati City is part of Metro Manila, the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines.

Bernardo Aguilar, who was accused in the March 2009 shooting of former chief of reporters and anchor for DxCC-Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) Nilo Labares, was sentenced to six years and one day to 12 years and one day imprisonment. The court also ordered Aguilar to pay Labares Php 255, 006.00 (approximately USD6, 061) in actual damages and Php 20, 000 (approximately USD 475) in temperate damages.

The case was submitted for decision after Aguilar and his lawyer failed to attend two consecutive hearings set for the presentation of the defense's evidence and witnesses.

Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 134 Judge Perpetua Atal-Paño said in her 4 June 2012 decision that, "be it noted however that (while) the accused filed on November 3, 2009 a Motion to Dispense with Physical Presence of Accused During Trial, from then on the accused no longer appeared before this Court, and the worst part of it (was) for his failure and that of his counsel to appear during the hearing, his right to present evidence to belie the accusations against him was deemed waived, thus the evidence of the prosecution pointing to him as the one who shot the private complainant was uncontroverted."

Judge Atal-Paño also wrote in her decision that "The testimony of the witnesses and the positive identification of the accused lead to the conclusion that indeed Bernardo 'Nanding' Aguilar was the one who shot herein private complainant Nilo Labares."

The judge added that the testimony of the witnesses "convincingly established that the accused shot the private complainant with intent to kill."

Labares survived the slay attempt by gunmen riding in tandem on a motorcycle in Cagayan de Oro City. Labares and one of the prosecution's witnesses were able to identify Aguilar as the gunman. Before the attack, Labares had received death threats on his mobile phone. He had been reporting on illegal gambling activities such as video karera and cockfighting.

The frustrated murder case against Aguilar was originally filed before the Cagayan de Oro City RTC Branch 21 but was transferred to RTC Branch 134 in Makati City through the Supreme Court Third Division's resolution (A.M. No. 09-6-257-RTC) granting the transfer of the trial venue of the case after the Office of the Court Administration (OCA) found that " . . . the perceived fear for the lives and security of the witnesses is actual and real and that the grounds cited by the petitioner appear to be well-founded and the violence feared is highly possible."

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