By Francis Allan L. Angelo
The lawyer of a political clan tagged in the murder of businesswoman Claire Diergos said they will file counter charges against several witnesses in the case.
Atty. Dwight Trasadas, counsel for the family of former mayor Peter Paul Lopez of San Dionisio, Iloilo, said they found inconsistencies and possible fabrications in the statements of some of the witnesses, particularly the pedicab driver and a relative of Diergos.
The claims against the witnesses is also the ground for Trasadas to move for the dismissal of the charges against his clients.
Murder charges were filed against five members of the Lopez clan:
-Former San Dionisio, Iloilo mayor Peter Paul Lopez
-Saliha “Sally” Lopez, second wife of Peter Paul Lopez
-Carlos Paul “Poypoy” Lopez, Peter Paul’s son with his first wife
-Felix Carlos Lopez, Peter Paul’s son with his first wife.
-Christian Paul “Chad” Lopez, son of Peter Paul and Sally
The family’s personal driver and bodyguard, Raffy Sorioso, was also implicated in the case. Trasadas’ law firm is representing the Lopezes and Sorioso.
Police also implicated in the case Gardo Ibrahim, another driver and bodyguard of the Lopez family, and Rodelyn Sumbong, househelp of Diergos.
A John Doe and a Jane Doe were also included in the criminal complaint filed with the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
But Trasadas said he is not representing Ibrahim and Sumbong.
“We do not know the exact whereabouts of Ibrahim who is believed to be in Mindanao while the Lopezes have nothing to do with Sumbong.
Trasadas confirmed that they will be filing their counter-affidavits today, Feb 10, along with the countersuits against some of the witnesses for perjury or making false statements.
Diergos was found dead at Brgy. Inangayan, Sta. Barbara, Iloilo on Oct 26, 2021 inside her Montero Sport SUV.
But police investigation indicated that she was killed inside her house at Deca Subdivision Phase 2 in Balabag village, Pavia between Oct 24 and 25.
Diergos succumbed to stab and slash wounds on her neck and body.
Sumbong was working for Diergos for less than 24 hours when the victim was killed.
Trasadas said the allegations of two witnesses in the case are suspicious and possibly false.
For one, one trisikad or pedicab driver who placed Sorioso, Ibrahim, and Sumbong in the primary crime scene, which is Diergos’ house, was not actually a driver.
The witness claimed in an affidavit that at around 4:20 a.m. of Oct 25, he was driving his pedicab in front of Diergos’ house when he saw Sorioso and Ibrahim carrying out something heavy that was wrapped in a blanket and later placed the load in the victim’s SUV.
The witness also saw a woman, who was later identified as Sumbong, closing the gate just as Sorioso and Ibrahim left onboard the SUV with Sorioso at the wheel.
The pedicab driver later identified the three when police showed him their photos.
Trasadas said the committee on transportation of the barangay council of Balabag issued a certification that the witness was not a pedicab driver.
He also cited the rules of Deca Homes setting curfew on pedicabs, which are only allowed to ferry passengers to and from the subdivision, but they cannot go around to look for passengers.
“It is impossible for the trisikad driver to be in the area because the subdivision prohibits trisikads from going into the community during curfew hours. So he cannot be in the area as he claimed. The barangay council also certified that this particular witness is not a registered member of the trisikad association,” Trasadas said.
The certification also said that the pedicab driver is not a resident of Deca Homes but of the NHA relocation site in Balabag.
SAME EVENT, DIFFERENT DATES
Investigators premised Diergos’ death to her purported relationships with Peter Paul Lopez and Christian Paul “Chad” Lopez.
Chad is Peter Paul’s son with his second wife Saliha “Sally” Lopez.
Police based the allegations on the statements of one of Diergos’ siblings and the victim’s former helper.
The Diergos sibling said the victim fetched her and her husband in front of a mall in LaPaz morning of Oct 28, 2020. Upon boarding the Diergos’ SUV, the victim introduced Chad to them.
The sister then noticed the sweetness between the victim and Chad as they drove towards Mandurriao, Iloilo City where they separated ways.
Diergos and Chad then drove towards City Proper district.
On the other hand, Diergos’ former worker claimed that in the morning of Sept 28, 2020, he and the victim were onboard her Montero Sport when she fetched a man somewhere in Iloilo City. The man then took over the steering wheel from the victim.
Diergos then introduced the man to the witness as Chad and they then drove to the mall in LaPaz district to fetch the victim’s younger sister.
Trasadas said the different dates for the same event points to inconsistencies in the statements of the witnesses.
He also insisted that Chad has no relationship with Diergos as the former has a girlfriend as proven by his Facebook account.
“Chad has no relationship with the victim because he has a girlfriend, and their photos together are all over Facebook. The only link of Diergos to the Lopezes is that she acquired her SUV through the family’s lending business,” the lawyer added.
Even if the claim of Diergos’ sister is true, Trasadas said it was impossible for Chad to go out on Oct 28, 2020 because he was under quarantine after he was a close contact of their vice mayor whose husband contracted COVID-19 at that time.
Chad Lopez is an incumbent Sangguniang Bayan member of their town.
Trasadas said they also found out that the John Doe implicated in the case, who was later identified as Yusop Turabin, was in Bantayan, Cebu when Diergos died.
In fact, the complaint attributed Yusop as an alias or nickname of Gardo Ibrahim, who was also implicated in the murder case.
Trasadas said they secured a certification from the Human Resource Department of San Dionisio municipal government attesting that Yusop and Ibrahim are two different persons.
The lawyer also said that it would be impossible for Sorioso to drive Diergos’ SUV “because he does not even know how to drive a motorcycle, nor does he have a driver’s license based on the certification from the Land Transportation Office.”
“From the looks of it, some of the witnesses made false statements and could be charged for perjury under our Revised Penal Code,” he added.