CEBU CITY–The lawyer of the King family in Cebu wasn’t inclined to believe claims that Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte was the mastermind in the slay of businessman Richard King in 2014.
Lawyer Deolito Alvarez said he was not convinced with the statements of Edgar Matobato, an alleged member of the Davao Death Squad, who testified during the Senate’s public hearing on the continued rise of extrajudicial killings and summary executions.
“Absolutely false. I am convinced that the accused who are facing the charge in court are the perpetrators and the statements of the gunman, the lookout and driver of the getaway vehicle pointing to the accused mastermind are true,” he said in a text message to the Inquirer.
“The statement of witness Matobato in trying to cast cloud and put politics into the equation is not true,” he added.
In his testimony, Matobato said Vice Mayor Duterte, the son of President Rodrigo Duterte, ordered the killing of King because of a woman, a franchisee of McDonald’s fastfood restaurant in Cebu.
The witness said Paolo and King were rivals when it came to women.
Matobato said his two companions, who were rebel returnees, were paid P500,000 to kill King.
King, who owned real estate and hotel businesses in Cebu and other parts of the country, was shot dead inside his office in Barrio Obrero, Davao City on June 12, 2014.
He was 56.
Authorities later arrested Paul Dave Molina Labang and siblings Rommel and Rodel de la Cerna. Labang confessed shooting King while the de la Cernas served as lookouts.
The three men pointed to Senior Supt. Leonardo Felonia, then chief of the regional police intelligence unit in Southern Mindanao, as mastermind. Felonia denied the accusations.
A consolidated report by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) stated that the Davao police had spoken with several private individuals about a “squabble” between King and the son of a business partner over mismanagement of the Crown Regency Resorts on Boracay Island in Aklan.
The suspect was heard arguing with King and making a verbal death threat: “Swerte lang ka kay wala ka sa Davao kay kung naa lang ka sa Davao, gipatay ta na ka (You’re fortunate you are not in Davao or else I would have killed you).”
The case concerning Richard’s slay remains pending before the trial court in Davao City.
Last July, President Duterte, in a news conference in Malacañang, said King was involved in illegal drugs trade.
He alluded to King as one of the “connections” of Herbert Colangco, a big-time drug personality, who is detained at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
King’s family cried foul over the insinuations.
Alvarez, the family’s lawyer since 2002, said they had no plans to go after or sue President Duterte but would cooperate in any investigation that may be conducted.