NBI investigation into Sarmiento deaths underway

May. 18, 2007

DAVAO CITY — Investigations are under way to determine the credibility of an eyewitness and his testimony regarding the killing of Malita mayoral candidate Isidro Sarmiento and his son Danny who was shot to death outside allegedly by Rep. Claude Bautista and his bodyguards.

In the aftermath of the killing, PNP Regional Director Chief Supt. Andres Caro formed Task Force Sarmiento, composed of the Philippine National Polices Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and different units of the PNP in the region and in the province.

Atty. Renato Mandawe, NBI-XI executive officer, said the NBI, which is working closely with TF Sarmiento, has under its protective custody an eyewitness of the incident and Isidro Sarmiento Jr. one of the son of the elder Sarmiento who will file the complaint against the Bautistas regarding the incident.

During an earlier media interview Rep. Bautista, who is running for Davao del Sur admitted that it was his bodyguards who shot the Sarmientos but in the act of self-defense as they were fired at first by the Sarmientos.

Rep. Bautista said he went to the Sarmiento residence to talk to Danny about the information he received that they have taken some election returns from the Comelec office in Malita. Rep. Bautistas brother, Benjamin the incumbent provincial Governor is Isidros rival for the mayoralty position of Malita.

In the middle of their conversation, according to Rep. Bautista, the elder Sarmiento appeared and fired at them, hitting one bodyguard and that prompted his details to fire back. The younger Sarmiento then fired upon one of the bodyguards but was also fell down by the return fire.

But the eyewitness belied Rep. Bautistas account of the incident. According to eyewitness, he was two arms’ length away from the party involved when the incident happened. The NBI also bared that initial report from the PNP Scene-of-the-Crime Operative (SOCO) showed that Isidro Sarmientos gun jammed and was not able to fire as the slug was still in the gun chamber.

Atty. Mantawe said they are still investigating the incident particularly checking if the eyewitness testimony is material to the case. Mantawe also said that the incident happened in front of many people. Meanwhile also under TF Sarmiento custody is the bodyguard of Rep. Bautista which was wounded during the incident, the bodyguard identified as Tito Alipaopao is recuperating in a Davao City hospital.

Meanwhile Regional Peace and Order Council Chairman, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he expects the Comelec to act on the Malita incident, since the situation is under their jurisdiction as it happened within election-time. But the Mayor says he will help in case Comelec will ask for his assistance. (PIA/RG Alama)

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