The family of slain lawyer Maria Saniata Liwliwa Gonzales Alzate never had any idea death was coming. ‘She never had any death threats’, said her husband, former Regional Trial Court Judge Raphiel F. Alzate. Gunmen riding-in-tandem pumped at least 8 bullets at close range at the lady lawyer, who was still inside her white Mitsubishi Mirage G4 sedan bearing plate number AVA 6533
parked in front of their gate along Santiago St., Zone 3, Bangued, Abra 4:55 Thursday afternoon. Ten minutes later, she was declared dead-on arrival (5:05PM) at the Seares Memorial Hospital, also in Bangued where she was rushed.

Two still unidentified male persons wearing blue polo shirt and dark cap fled fled towards Brgy. Consiliman, Zone 2, Bangued, as captured by CCTV cameras. Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. David Peredo, who immediately ordered a manhunt, begged off to detail what investigators are toying on possible motives prompting the killing. “Theres is no definitive motive yet,” the police official said. The former RTC Judge is anxious though about the slowpaced police action. “My wife
is dead! Seems walang action ang mga pulis,” he said in a text message.

BGen. Peredo is heading to Bangued, Abra early Monday morning to personally oversee the progress of the investigation of the killing. While the lawyers groups like the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines Northern Luzon and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers condemned the killing. Lawyer Edre Olalia described the latest killing, the second in this present administration he said, as a manifestation of impunity within our midst. “Involvements” Mid-September in 2020,
the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed the former RTC Judge due to irregularities in handing down decisions on marriage annulment cases before his court at the Cabugao, Ilocos Sur Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 24, and Bucay, Abra RTC Branch 58.

The SC unanimously voted in finding Alzate guilty of gross ignorance of the law and gross misconduct. All of his benefits were forfeited except accrued leave benefits and was perpetually
disqualified from public office. The SC also investigated the lady-lawyer victim on her alleged participation in the questioned decisions on the annulment of marriage cases issued by her husband. The former Judge however refused to dignify such involvement of his slain wife as tied with Thursday afternoon’s killing.

Alzate’s dismissal stemmed from reports reaching the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) which conducted a judicial audit on Cabugao, Ilocos Sur RTC. The OCA audit team found that he was then issuing decisions on nullity of marriage for financial considerations, a wanton disregard of the rules of procedures in the declaration of nullity of marriage cases. OCA identified and confirmed cases where parties were not actual residents of the municipalities under the territorial jurisdiction of Alzate’s sala.

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

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