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Businessman, 2 ex-rebels charged in court for killing of Agusan del Sur mining exec 

By Chris V. Panganiban

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur ——The provincial prosecutor of Agusan del Sur had indicted a businessman and two former New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas for allegedly conspiring to kill in 2021 retired Col. Samuel G. Afdal, a gold miner in the province.

Provincial prosecutor Ceferino Dino Paredes filed last Jan. 31 an amended information before Regional Trial Court Branch 26 here, adding the names of Ryan Mark Baylon, Rosalino Degracia and Alemar Awado as suspects.

Prior to this, only alleged gunman Jeffrey Mamerto, along with two unknown suspects, were charged for the attack against Afdal, known as Saga among his associates, last Oct. 26, 2021 in Barangay Sta. Cruz of Rosario town. 

In his resolution dated Jan. 18, 2024, Paredes recommended the filing of murder charges against respondents Baylon, Degracia and Awado, largely based on the confession of Mamerto who admitted to have pulled the trigger against Afdal and was convicted for the crime last year.

Afdal used to be president of Philsaga Mining Corporation, which is extracting gold in a tenement in Rosario town. He sold his interests in the company and started a new one, Rosario Manobo Mining Corporation (RMMC).

Afdal was driving along an uphill road when ambushed in Barangay Santa Cruz. Although hit, the former soldier managed to drive toward the RMMC base camp and sought help.

He was rushed to a local hospital where he later lapsed into a coma and died on Nov. 15, 2021. Mamerto had pointed to Baylon, Afdal’s business associate who is president of the firm JB Earthmovers Inc., as the mastermind of the kill plot, allegedly offering his former NPA colleagues Degracia and Awado P200,000 to do the hit job.

Mamerto, in turn, was contracted for P50,000 to pull the trigger against Afdal.

Business angle

In the amended information, Baylon was tagged as principal by inducement for offering the cash reward for the hit job, and also principal by indispensable cooperation by giving Degracia, Awado and Mamerto critical information so they can carry out the ambush.

Degracia and Awado were tagged as co-principal by direct participation. In Nov. 15 last year, during pretrial hearing, Mamerto’s confession was presented before the court and, in a plea bargaining, he pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of homicide, earning a 10-year prison term.

In her complaint for murder against Baylon, Afdal’s widow Evelyn said that the accused allegedly defrauded her family of their ownership stake in JB Earthmovers which was “obliterated” from company records after her husband’s death.

Afdal had invested P60 million in JB Earthmovers and had a 50% stake in it, while his son had 1%. A case for estafa is currently pending before the Davao City prosecutor’s office related to this.

Prior to his death, Afdal, according to Evelyn’s complaint, had JB Earthmovers audited to determine the reason for its business losses.

Evelyn also noted the accounts of witnesses that several days after her husband’s death, Baylon attempted to take control of RMMC.

This reporter had tried to contact known numbers of Baylon and his firm, JB Earthmovers, but he has yet to respond.

Since his name cropped up as a suspect in the crime late last year, Baylon had been coy to media requests for interviews to get his side of the issue.

He and his two other co-accused even skipped clarificatory hearings on the case set by Paredes last December.

But Baylon was seen participating in the Mindanao leg of the 2024 BOSS Ironman Motorcycle Challenge, and was part of one of two teams led by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa who dropped by San Francisco municipal hall on Jan. 28. 

Afdal and Baylon were riding buddies of Davao City’s On Any Sunday Riders Club which counts among its members former president Rodrigo Duterte and Dela Rosa. 

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