DOJ junks murder raps vs Ricky Recto

Posted at 01/07/2014 3:07 PM | Updated as of 01/07/2014 7:27 PM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reversed its earlier ruling finding probable cause against former Batangas Vice-Governor Richard "Ricky" Recto for murder, frustrated murder, and damage to property in connection with the June 2006 blast at the Batangas Provincial Capitol that left two people dead and seriously injured then Governor Armando Sanchez.

In a 12-page resolution dated Dec. 26, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodor Villanueva granted Recto's motion for reconsideration (MR) which sought a reversal of the DOJ's finding of probable cause against him. The resolution was approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.

Recto pointed out that he had nothing to do with the planning, financing and execution of the assassination attempt on Sanchez.

Recto also debunked the claims of witnesses who implicated him in the crime.

The witnesses claimed that the Batangas bombing was part of a plot by disgruntled soldiers of the Makabayang Kawal Pilipino to bomb public places in order "to destabilize the government," and that Sanchez was among those targeted because he was corrupt, a jueteng lord, and contributed campaign funds to former President Gloria Arroyo during the 2004 elections, among others.

The witnesses, also soldiers, claimed that Recto was present in one of the group's meetings for the planning and execution of the bombings.

They also claimed that the plan to assassinate Sanchez was hatched so Recto could sit as provincial Governor and finance their other operations.

In granting Recto's MR, the DOJ found the "non-existence of probable cause to hold him for trial for the crimes committed."

"Perusal of the statements submitted by the investigating police authorities show that even if there was really a conversation that transpired between the military officers and [Richard] Recto on how to destroy a vehicle and whether 'C-4,' a plastic explosive is sufficient to effectively carry out the purpose, still as based on the very same statements, there was never any meeting of the minds, no concrete agreement or plan was arrived at, no conspiracy was ever established, no definite personalities were identified that would be the subject and as to who would effectuate such plans were discussed.'

"All statements issued by the military officers are based on hearsay evidence as told to them..." the resolution read.

The DOJ said that the witnesses were not present during the "actual planting of the bomb" that wrecked Sanchez's Humvee vehicle, and that no evidence was presented to prove that the military officers "conspired to assassinate then Governor Sanchez."

Several other individuals were charged along with Recto, but the ruling is only applicable to him.