By Artemio Dumlao
BANGUED, Abra – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Cordillera filed multiple murder raps Friday morning against La Paz, Abra Mayor Joseph Sto Nino Bernos, 32 and his father, Danglas town Vice Mayor Andres Bernos, 78, after an assassin admitted to murdering at least three of his town mates on orders of the father-son duo.
Jacobo Badua, who was a close-in security aide and alleged hitman of the older Bernos, turned himself in to Cordillera Police Director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, who in turn endorsed the investigation to the NBI-Cordillera.
“We will ask the Abra prosecutors’ office though to inhibit from the case,” NBI-Cordillera Special Investigator III Abner Dotimas said, explaining, they have reservations on the impartiality of state prosecutors in Abra to handle the case citing various cases the latter bungled in favor of accused murderers and the state prosecution officers’ integrity.
Badua, 55, in his sworn-in confession, claimed he killed Joel Afos on July 2002; William Sagun on April 2006; and saw barangay chairman Ruben Afos on July 2004 killed by another assassin; all on the orders of Mayor Bernos and his father, with the latter even handing personally the pistol used in these murders.
Badua, said he is coming out because his safety including his family are at stake.
The self-confessed assassin said he killed Joel Afos, in 2002 on orders of the elder Bernos who wanted “to give (the victim) a lesson after robbing their pawnshop.” He was reportedly handed by the elder Bernos a caliber .45, which he used in the killing and returned it after “his mission.”
Badua further claimed before the Abra prosecutor’s office that he personally witnessed how alias “Boy Droga,” upon orders of the elder Bernos and Mayor Bernos killed Ruben Afos, a former barangay chairman in Calaba, Bangued in 2004 and also town chairman of the Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC). He claimed he drove the motorcycle where “Boy Droga” rode.
Afos ran against Mayor Bernos in the vice-mayoralty post in La Paz in 2004.
He further swore he shot William Sagun in April 2007 five times right in front of the victim’s house in Poblacion La Paz with the similar pistol handed to him by the elder Bernos. He said he was ordered to kill Sagun because the latter accused the Bernoses in the mysterious disappearance of the victim’s cousin—Lomen Dupo, a school teacher. Until now, the school teachers’ body was nowhere to be found, Badua said.
The whistle blower, though who is co-accused with the Bernoses, was still indicted in the multiple murder cases while the NBI-Cordillera said it will ask the Department of Justice to make the assassin as state witness in the town murders.
Mayor Bernos immediately denide Badua’s confessions insisting such accusations against him and his father is motivated by political vendetta.
“All of these are fabricated accusations,” the younger Bernos said while suspecting such confession by Badua was timed to get back at the Bernoses after the whistleblower’s loss to his wife in the vice-mayoralty race last May.
Mayor Bernos also questioned why some still believe Badua even if he is also not clean.
“He is facing a murder charge,” the town executive said.