February 1, 2023

The Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Bontoc, Mountain Province has dropped the complaint against the alleged cohort of the gunman who killed anti-graft crusader Salvador Liked in Bauko on Sept. 2.

In a resolution dated Nov. 6, the Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the complaint against John Lipato for lack of probable cause.

The resolution; penned by Associate Provincial Prosecutor Joaquin Bulong, Jr.; said the complaint rested on the affidavit of Jimmy Tanugon Liked, the victim’s nephew. 

In his affidavit dated Oct. 1, Liked told the investigating officers that he did not identify the person who shot his uncle but identified the cohort as Lipato.

But on Nov. 6, Liked executed another affidavit denying what he stated in his previous statement.

“He is now making it appear that his supposed statements in the first affidavit that he signed are not actually his. He also claims that he never mentioned the name of the respondent as the perpetrator. He is recanting said statements and that he will never affirm nor confirm the truthfulness of his previous affidavit,” Bulong stated.

The prosecution also said the recantations and desistance made subsequently by witnesses are generally looked down with disfavor.

“Finding no probable cause against the respondent, it is hereby recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed. However, it is strongly recommended that the concerned investigating police officers conduct further investigation in order to identify the real author of the death of Salvador Guitabao Liked,” the resolution stated.

The 44-year-old Liked, who was a kagawad of Barangay Balintaugan and secretary-general of Citizen Crime Watch-Cordillera, was shot three times. He sustained two gunshot wounds on his back and nape resulting in his death on the evening of Sept. 2 in front of his residence in Gotang, Balintaugan.

Initial police reports said there were two suspects on the scene, a gunman and a lookout, who fled the area after the incident. – Ofelia C. Empian