Leviste is charge with murder

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FORMER Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste jumped the gun on the police by giving himself up upon learning that the Makati Regional Trial Court had amended his homicide case to the non-bailable offense of murder.

Leviste’s surrender caught Makati police chief Supt. Gilbert Cruz by surprise. He was yet to receive from the court a warrant for the arrest of Leviste.

Accompanied by his lawyers and relatives, the ex-provincial executive arrived at the Makati Police headquarters at around 2 p.m. yesterday after he learned that Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda had approved the recommendation of the Department of Justice to upgrade the case filed against him for the killing of his executive assistant Rafael delas Alas.

The accused was in tears while talking to reporters at the Makati police station.

The former governor, who admitted killing Delas Alas inside his office at the 9th floor of the family-owned LPL Tower bldg. in Legazpi Village, Makati City on January 12, claimed he did it in self-defense. He surrendered to Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay an hour after the shooting.

Judge Alameda deferred the arraignment of Leviste last January 24 after he allowed state prosecutors to reinvestigate the case. The victim’s family claimed homicide charges were hastily filed by the Makati police.

Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco was given 30 days to reinvestigate the case.

Leviste’s lawyer contested the upgrading of the case against his client, questioning the hasty conduct of the reinvistigation which Velasco carried out within only two and a half days.

The prosecutors said their recommendation for murder was supported by their own findings. The multiple gunshot wounds in the face and right arm of Delas Alas coupled with other prima facie evidence which was not included in those presented by the Makati police to support the homicide charges they filed against Leviste indicated Delas Alas was a victim of murder, not homicide, the government lawyers contended.

Velasco also claimed the evidence recovered by the police from Leviste’s office was tampered with.

On Monday, another witness surfaced reportedly to shed light on the death of Delas Alas.

The witness, Manolito Ambrocio, said to be Leviste’s architect and interior designer, arrived at the National Bureau of Investigation office in Manila to give a sworn statement on the death of Delas Alas, LPL Tower’s building administrator for the last 42 years.

NBI investigators said Ambrocio’s statement would be very crucial to both the prosecution and the defense.

Leviste posted a P40,000 bail on the homicide charges. After the upgrading of the case, his victim’s family sought the cancellation of his bond.

He will be committed to the Makati City Jail once the Makati police receive from the court a warrant of arrest against the suspect.

However, Leviste’s lawyer said he would file a motion for reconsideration.