Girl identifies accused killer

Philippine Sun Star/May 20, 2005
By Grecar A. Nilles

The 10-year-old witness to the shooting of lawyer Arbet Sta.Ana-Yongco pointed yesterday to alleged gunman Michel Favila as the one who entered the lawyer’s office at the time she was killed.

In a 45-minute direct testimony, Nene (real name withheld) pointed to Favila twice as the man who put on a bonnet before he entered the lawyer’s office.

He left after four gunshots rang out, the witness added.

Yongco, who used to prosecute the parricide case against Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) master Ruben Ecleo Jr., was shot dead in her office on Alcohol and Sikatuna Sts., Bara-ngay Zapatera, Cebu City last Oct. 11.

Favila, who is detained at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center, was a ranking official of the PBMA. He has denied attacking Yongco.

Defense lawyer Orlando

Salatandre Jr., who considered Nene’s testimony vital, asked for a chance to continue his cross-examination.

Nene said she easily recognized Favila because he stood beside her before putting on the bonnet and entering the office.

But Salatandre, who questioned the child for two hours about her recollection of the day’s events, said Nene’s testimony “seems rehearsed.”


That comment angered both the private and public prosecutors.

Former National Bureau of Investigation 7 director Ramon Duyongco said Salatandre’s statement was “very irresponsible” and should be struck from the records.

Salatandre also wanted the witness’ mother cited in contempt of court, for allegedly coaching the child when the girl was asked to draw the area where Yongco was shot. The child said no such coaching took place.

Since Nene is still a minor, Regional Trial Court Branch 20 Judge Bienvenido Saniel allowed the child’s mother to sit beside her during her testimony.

Salatandre said the child’s mother told the girl to write “alcohol” in one of the lines the witness had drawn. (Yongco’s office is on Alcohol St.)

But Saniel did not grant Salatandre’s verbal motion, and instead just noted the defense lawyer’s plea.

In her testimony, Nene said she was outside Yongco’s house when she noticed Favila standing outside.

“He (Favila) glared at me and showed me his gun,” Nene told the court.

Out of fear, she said she went to the lawyer’s store to buy ice water.

Not long after, she noticed Favila using his cellular phone. “Come here now,” he allegedly told the person on the other end of the line.

After he stepped out of the office, Favila went to Sikatuna St. and summoned the men on motorcycle, saying, “Come here, it is done.”

After boarding the motorcycle, the suspect then removed his bonnet and sped off downtown, towards the Day-as area, the witness added.

Favila, who was seated along with the three other accused, shook his head the first time the child pointed at him.


Accused Nestor Carrol, Master Sgt. Heracleo Rallestan and Eddie Ardita, who are all members of the PBMA, sat silently in the gallery.

During the cross-examination, Nene admitted only the eyes remain visible if one wears a bonnet.

But she stressed she clearly saw Favila before he put on the bonnet and that the accused stood beside her before entering the lawyer’s office.

Nene also asked the court several times yesterday to prevent Salatandre from going near her, saying his voice was loud.

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