THE LEAD witness in the Mark Welson Chua murder case recanted his testimony and said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officers coached him to implicate UST Reserved Officers Training Corps (UST-ROTC) administrative officers as masterminds in the killing of the Mechanical Engineering student who exposed the anomalies in the University’s military training program.

Rico Nicolan, 14, of Purok 2, Brgy. Bara, Lucena City, said he was instructed by Roland Argabioso and Rosauro Bautista of the NBI Special Action Unit to point to former Department of Military Science and Tactics (UST-DMST) staffer Genesis Binagatan as one of the men he and another witness, Jeffrey Luceña, saw dumping a wrapped object with the shape and size of a man, at the Pasig River at 2 a.m. of March 16, the date after Chua was reported missing.

Nicolan said that Argabioso and Bautista also coached him to implicate Genesis’ brother, Jeffrey.

“Na ako ay inudyukan nina Bautista at Argabioso na ituro ko rin ang kapatid ni Genesis Binagatan na si Jeffrey ngunit hindi ko magawa…” Nicolan said in his new statement filed at NBI last May.

“Na ako ay umalis sa pangangalaga ng NBI dahil hindi ko makayanan ang araw-araw na pagsasabi at pagtuturo sa akin na panindigan ang aking ginawang kasinungalingan para ipahamak ang isang taong walang kasalanan at kinalaman sa pagkamatay ni Chua,” added Nicolan.

Nicolan said that he even received P1,000 from Chua’s mother, Amelita Magno, when he was in the custody of the Western Police District (WPD) homicide section, and received an additional P500 after he pointed to Genesis Binagatan as behind Chua’s killing.

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In an interview with the Varsitarian, former UST-ROTC commandant Maj. Demy Tejares, said that the Binagatan brothers who were arrested by the NBI for the crime, could not have been behind the killing because they did not have the means to do so.

Genesis, who was imprisoned for illegal possession of firearms, was later cleared of the charges.

Nicolan meanwhile left NBI’s custody last July. Nothing has been heard from him since then. Ma. Lynda C. Corpuz

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