By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY ---While the case has been downgraded from murder to homicide (or from non-bailable to bailable offense), friends and fellow journalists want immediate justice for the senseless killing of Celso Amo, 66, who died in a stabbing incident.
Amo was killed after he had an argument with suspect Adam Johnson Abanes in Daraga town in Albay Sunday morning on November 11.
According to police, witnesses said Abanes wanted to join Amo, who was playing basketball at that time, but the latter refused. This drove Abanes to stab the newsman to death.
The municipal police of Daraga, Albay first filed murder charges against Abanes at the Albay Provincial Prosecutors Office (PPO).
Lawyer Maria Miranda Gojar, assistant prosecutor at the PPO, however, said that after reviewing the case, inquest prosecutors recommended that homicide be filed to the court, instead of murder.
She said police failed to prove other elements that would warrant the filing of murder charges against the suspect.
2 orphaned children
Amo, a native of Ormoc City, was a retired government employee of the Philippine Information Agency in Bicol.
He was also a correspondent of the Philippine Star, a stringer of the Philippine News Agency and editor-in-chief of The Windows, a quarterly publication of the Legazpi City government.
He also wrote for various local weekly tabloids such as Dyaryo Bikol and the Bicol Mail.
Amo, who was a widower, left two children, Chuck and Kristella Marie.
In an interview, Kristella Marie said that her father’s untimely death was a great loss to the family.
“Me and my brother Chuck are now orphaned,” she said, as her mother also died last year.
She described her father as “loving and caring,” who despite his work as a journalist, “always sees to it that we are well.”
Kristella Marie, who works as a nurse at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), recalled that fateful day at the emergency room. She said her father, despite being in pain, managed to embrace her and whisper something, which she did not reveal.
Supt. Benito Dipad, chief of the Daraga police, said the downgrading was due to some legal technicalities that the prosecutors observed during the inquest.
He said the prosecutors found that the police, despite a written affidavit was not able to present a key witness.
Dipad said he would immediately get in touch with the key witness, who was willing to appear to the inquest proceeding and cooperate with the authorities.
He said the witness, a resident of Pili, Camarines Sur, returned to his hometown after executing the affidavit.
According to him, the appearance and testimony of the witness would be vital in the case.
He said a supplemental affidavit would also be submitted for the case to be elevated to murder.
With homicide, the suspect may be allowed to post P120,000 bail for his temporary liberty.
Dipad also said that Abanes’ relatives claimed that the suspect was suffering from depression, but failed to present medical records to prove it.
He said that when the suspect was being brought to court for inquest, he also attempted to grab the firearm of one of the police security escorts, but the police managed to control him.
Meanwhile, the National Union Journalists of the Philippines-Albay chapter has issued a statement asking government authorities to immediately bring justice to the senseless killing of Amo.