Thursday, July 20, 2006

Justice dep’t to investigate 6 bishops, Lacson on coup plots

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
MANILA -- The Department of Justice will investigate allegations of two former jueteng witnesses linking six Catholic Church leaders and Senator Panfilo Lacson in attempts to grab power last February.

Former jueteng witnesses Richard Garcia and Abraham “Abe” Riva claimed that Bishops Oscar Cruz, Deogracias Iñiguez, Antonio Tobias, Teodoro Bacani, Julio Labayen and Angel Lagdameo and Lacson were part of the conspiracy to topple the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Garcia and Riva revealed such information a day after Bishop Tobias was named by 1st Lieutenant Lawrence San Juan, involved in the short-lived Oakwood mutiny in July 2003, as the one who provided shelter after his escape in January.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales said they would thoroughly evaluate the allegations of Garcia and Riva. He said the six Church leaders are not above the law in case they are proven guilty.

“No one is above the law, though we respect the protection that shall be given to them by the Catholic Church,” Gonzales said.

Meanwhile, Cruz in a television interview shrugged off the claims of the two former jueteng witnesses.

Cruz is confident that no one would believe the two former jueteng witnesses because they lack credibility.

Cruz alleged that Garcia and Riva could have made the statements out of financial needs.

The two were among the witnesses presented by Cruz when the Senate conducted an inquiry into alleged jueteng payola-payoffs.

On the other hand, Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani who was also link to the coup talks denied allegations that they plotted a coup.

Bacani denies participation in coup talks calling the allegation as a “terrible lie”. He said he never met Lacson nor is he acquainted with Garcia or Riva.

Senator Lacson also denied conspiring with the bishops claiming the statement of the two former jueteng witnesses is motivated by money.(Sunnex)


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