Court says real mastermind in Matamorosa slay still evades law

By Jonas Cabiles Soltes

RAUL M. Matamorosa was shot in cold blood ten years ago in Naga while he was about to board his car after dropping by an appliance repair shop along one of the city’s thoroughfares. Seven persons were charged with murder in the celebrated case: The “treacherous” killing of the then incumbent Mayor of Lupi, Camarines Sur on his last term. Just last week, justice came for victim Matamorosa although it was incomplete. In a decision dated October 7, 2022, Regional Trial Court Branch 61 sentenced Wilfredo Rabaca Sasota, the identified gunman, to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay P711, 140 in damages to the heirs of the late mayor. Sasota, the Court said, was a member of the Gilbert Concepcion Group, a notorious gun-for-hire ring being linked to the killing of several politicians in Bicol. The Court, on the other hand acquitted, former Lupi, Camarines Sur Vice Mayor Jocely M. Osabal and her co-accused and husband Jufre “Joe” P. Osabal, a local radio broadcaster. Also acquitted in the murder case was Eurie L. Terceno, a political ally of the Osabals. Sasota Sasota was identified positively by two witnesses and the Court ruled that he was guilty—beyond reasonable doubt—of killing Matamorosa. One of the two witnesses identified Sasota as the actual gunman who shot Matamorosa at the back of his neck at point blank. “It is evident from the obvious planning involved…as shown by the gunman Sasota having nearby and ready get-away motorcycle manned by two other cohorts,” said the Court ruling. Osabals The decision on Case No. 2013-0359 also said that spouses Jocely and Jufre Osabal, and Terceno, had been acquitted “on various degrees of reasonable doubt.” Before the promulgation of the decision that acquitted them, the Osabals were alleged to have been the masterminds behind the assassination. But the Court said that based on evidence presented by the prosecution team there was nothing that could link the Osabals directly to the gunman. Three more suspects remain at large including David M. Osea, Jr and the two still unidentified persons who operated the getaway motorcycle. Missing link to mastermind With the acquittal of the Osabals, the question now, according to the Court, is who really masterminded the killing of Matamorosa by forging a “contract-killing” with the Gilbert Concepcion Group. “The long and winding road in the case of over nine years (or nearly ten years from the Matamorosa murder) has unfortunately not led us to the door of the indubitable mastermind,” the Court said. But the testimony of the still at large Osea Jr, who was seen by a witness with the gunman two days before the killing of Matamorosa could “connect the dots” to the mastermind. Osea Jr. was the driver assigned to then Vice Mayor Jocely Osabal. “But as the spouses Osabal are being acquitted on reasonable doubt as the masterminds, who else was it then whom Osea could have been working for? Perhaps this is the real ‘one million pesos’ question,” the decision asked.