BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Moises Padilla Vice Mayor Ian Villaflor clarified yesterday that he is on “official leave” as presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan, and cited a continuing threat to his life.
Arrest warrants have been issued against Villaflor and three other town councilors, among others, for the murder of then councilor Jolomar Hilario.
Villaflor, who strongly denied accusations against him, said that the New People’s Army has publicly claimed responsibility for the death of Hilario. “Implicating us in the crime is totally unfair, uncalled for and baseless,” he added.
“Contrary to the fake news and the lies being spread around, I am not in hiding,” Villaflor said in a statement he issued.
He also said his office continues to perform and fulfill its duties and responsibilities as best it can.
“However, recent circumstances have continued to put my life in danger and forced me to take the necessary precautions for my personal safety and security as well as for my family,” Villaflor added.
“I cannot and will not be reckless to ignore the threats which can no longer be taken lightly,” he also said.
Villaflor added that they already filed a petition for review of the criminal complaints against them before the Department of Justice, and are waiting for results.
Of the eight cases filed against him, Villaflor said in an interview over Aksyon Radyo, that seven have already been dismissed by the court.
“I still believe that we will be vindicated because God knows we have nothing to do with it. With truth and justice on our side, and with the Lord Almighty answering our call to rescue and save us against all forms of harm and danger, including baseless and malicious prosecution, we will overcome,” he stressed.
Villaflor also said that he is now availing of his many leave credits, adding that his official leave was approved by Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia-Yulo, and a copy was furnished to the Department of Interior and Local Government.
He said his official leave took effect on Feb. 24, adding that an officer-in-charge has been designated to replace him temporarily as presiding officer of the SB.
“I hope and pray that the dangers and threats to our life, safety and security will soon be over so that I can continue to serve the people of Moises Padilla with more passion and dedication, and much more than I ever did before,” Villaflor added.*