The late Ramgen Bautista.

MANILA — The Las Piñas police are mulling perjury or obstruction charges against Ma. Ramona “Mara” Belen Bautista for retracting her statement last Friday about her abduction on the night her brother Ramgen “Ram” Bautista was murdered on Oct. 28.

Las Piñas City police chief Senior Supt. Romulo Sapitula said they are studying whether to sue Mara in connection with her retraction.
Another matter they are looking into is whether they can file charges since it is the Parañaque police which is handling the murder investigation, he said.

Sapitula said they were surprised by Mara’s sudden turn-around, saying they even considered her as a victim.

The filing of perjury charges could hit a snag as Mara recanted her statement without the presence of a lawyer.

Mara had told Las Piñas police she was abducted by the suspects and later dumped in a mall near Alabang-Zapote.

Mara, in a statement to a news channel last Friday, said she was not abducted and fled the residence because she was in shock and she feared that the killers were still inside.

Meanwhile, Ramgen’s girlfriend Janelle Manahan went through reconstructive facial surgery at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center for four fractures after she was stabbed by Ramgen’s killers.

The facial surgery covers Janelle’s lower left eye, her nose, right chin bone and right jaw.

Her father, Julius, said the surgery started at past 7 a.m. Monday and lasted for five to six hours.

Julius said his daughter may have to wear a brace for up to eight weeks to allow her to open her mouth slightly to accommodate food.

He said it was only Saturday night that Janelle learned that Ramgen had died. “Iyak siya ng iyak at hinahanap niya palagi.”

He said they also want justice but right now their focus is her condition.

The Parañaque prosecutors office began the preliminary investigation on the case to decide whether there is probable cause to indict Ramon Joseph “RJ” Bautista, Mara Bautista, Michael Jay Altea, Roy Francis “Kiko” Tolisora, a “Glyza Vista,” Norwin de la Cruz, and “Bryan.”

Once the prosecutor finds a probable cause, the case will be forwarded to the regional trial court which will issue arrest warrants.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima denied she was being discriminatory in exercising her power to issue a watch list order (WLO) following the departure of Mara Bautista last Friday night.

De Lima was reacting to the allegation of Sen. Francis Escudero of double standard in the issuance of WLOs in the cases of Mara and former President Gloria Arroyo who is facing poll fraud and plunder charges at the DOJ.

De Lima has yet to act on Arroyo’s travel request.

De Lima said unlike Arroyo, whose case has already progressed to the preliminary investigation stage, Mara was allowed to leave last Friday since no formal charges were filed against her and there was no request by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to place her under the watch list order.

Mara flew to Turkey via Hong Kong last Friday night.

Married to a Turkish national, Mara has said she was only visiting the country and listed Istanbul, Turkey as her residence in her departure card.

The Philippines has no extradition treaty with Turkey.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula said the bureau might have a hard time in getting back Mara.

He noted that placing Mara on the “red notice” of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) can be possible only once a local court has issued a warrant for her arrest.

A red notice is a provisional request for arrest of wanted persons, with a view to extradition.

The notice is said to be the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today.

Gatdula said even if a warrant of arrest is issued, an Interpol member country can effect the arrest only if it has an extradition treaty with the Philippines.

He said the best solution to bring Mara back is to have her passport cancelled.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is willing to show to media the closed-circuit television video of Mara’s departure via Hong Kong, to dispel rumors that Bautista was escorted by airport insiders.

“We are willing to show video footage of her departure after we have pieced together the various shots of the CCTV to show that we have nothing to hide,” said Connie Bungag, officer in charge of the MIAA Public Affairs Department.

Mara was seen at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 boarding a Cathay Pacific Airlines flight CX902 at about 8 p.m. last Friday, assisted by two airport employees — one reportedly a customs official and another an airport police or a member of the PNP.

Both were in civilian clothes.

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