The Department of Justice-National Prosecution Service (DOJ-NPS) scored a conviction against four accused for the murder of Gil Manlapaz, owner of Manlapaz Grocery located at P. Gil, Sta. Ana, Manila.
RTC-Manila, Branch 173 Judge Yanga meted the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua with all the accessory penalties provided by law against accused Raymond Mercado y Singuelo, Dennis Frederick Lelis y Macapagal, Jose Reblora y Porlayagan, and Anita Buce.
Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima commended Assistant State Prosecutors Mari Elvira Herrera, Hjalmar Quintana and Hazel C. Decena-Valdez for successfully prosecuting the case.
Investigation showed that on June 29, 2006, Gil Manlapaz was gunned down in front of his store in Sta. Ma, Manila by a trigger man who immediately walked away from the scene joined by two other men. Victim was rushed to the hospital and on July 2, 2006, Manlapaz passed away.
On September 23, 2006, Dennis Frederick Macapagal Lelis, one of the accused was apprehended for an alleged crime of Attempted Robbery and Frustrated Murder.
While under detention, Lelis executed a Sinumpaang Salaysay declaring that he and Raymond "Kulit" Mercado, another accused, were contacted and contracted by a certain "Toto" later known as George C. Duazo for their services to liquidate for a fee Mrs. Josephine Manlapaz, owner of Manlapaz Grocery. However, at the time of her supposed execution, only Gil Manlapaz was available as a target so they called up Duazo who instructed them to shoot down any member of the Manlapaz family. Lelis, likewise, said that Duazo arrived at the Paco market and handed him the envelope containing the money.
On the other hand, Mercado confessed that Duazo met him and offered to pay him P15,000.00 for the killing of Mrs. Josephine Manlapaz and as the latter was not available, Duazo ordered them to eliminate any member of her family and that a certain Jose Reblora y Porlayagan served as a lookout. Reblora later declared his participation in the commission of the crime, that two days prior to June 29, 2006, he met Duazo and his neighbors Lelis and Mercado and that he was handed P5,000.00 on the day of the incident. Reblora also related that Lelis told him that it was a certain Anita Buce alias Anita Grocery, whom he did not know at that time, who actually paid the whole amount for the job.
Warrants of arrest were issued against all accused on May 28, 2007. Lelis, Mercado, Reblora were under the custody of the NBI, Buce was temporarily released reasoning that she was deprived of the opportunity to give her statement during the preliminary investigation before this Department because the subpoena was sent to the wrong address while Duazo remained at large.
On December 27, 2008, Duazo was arrested, committed to the Manila City Jail and in May 2009, signed an extra-judicial confession admitting his participation to the crime as middleman who recruited and hired killers to accomplish the task and implicated Buce as the mastermind in the killing of Manlapaz' husband. George Duazo was later discharged as an accused and was made a state witness. Duazo's testimony that accused Buce was the one who gave the contract money for the killing of Gil Manlapaz and apparently was also the one giving him instructions clearly demonstrates the commonality of purpose of the acts of accused Buce together with the other three accused.
"Such acts have the common design or purpose in the felony of money-for-hire killing that has been committed," the Court said.
The Court found prosecution's evidence more than ample to establish with moral certainty the guilt of the accused Lelis, Mercado and Reblora of the crime of murder. The victim was shot at the back twice. The attack was complete surprise and was unprovoked - sudden and unexpected - giving the unarmed victim no chance whatsoever to defend 2 him. The accused deliberately, and consciously adopted methods, means and form of execution employed by them without any risk on their part or any retaliation from the victim.
"Similarly, the clear showing that the facts or circumstances of weight or substance demonstrate that conspiracy was present among and between Anita Buce, Raymond Mercado, Dennis Frederick M. Lelis, and Jose P. Reblora," Judge Yanga further said in his decision.