Alberto Robledo, alias Abdul Basar, claimed he was never involved in the killing of Maitum Mayor George Yabes on Nov. 11 last year and stressed that he was just forced to admit his participation in the incident.
He said another detained suspect who confessed involvement in the killing is allegedly set to make another turnaround to corroborate with his claim.
"I'm innocent. I've been suffering from a crime that I did not commit," he said in the vernacular in an interview with a local television station this morning.
Robledo claimed he was convinced by authorities to admit his role in the killing and implicate six other persons, including Yabes's successor Felix Reganit, because of the financial help offered to his family.
He said his wife and children are currently receiving financial support from Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez.
But Dominguez, a close ally of the slain mayor, immediately turned the tables on Robledo, saying the latter could have been paid to recant his previous confession.
"It looks like nasuhulan (It looks like he was paid)," Dominguez said of Robledo but he refused to give further details.
But with the recantation, the governor said the suspect practically lost his credibility.
Robledo surrendered to agents of Military Intelligence Group 11 and 102nd Army Brigade in Barangay Malisbong in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat in late November last year.
The suspect earlier said he decided to surrender after his cohorts failed to deliver his alleged share in P50,000 that was paid them for the killing of Yabes.
Yabes, 64, was gunned down in broad daylight by three motorcycle-riding gunmen in Barangay Poblacion while driving his owner jeep.
Police said witnesses positively identified Robledo as one of the three gunmen who allegedly took part in the killing of Yabes.
Robledo later claimed he was the backup of the triggerman identified as Allan Kamid. He identified the third member of the assassination team only by the name Abu.
He claimed that one Mike Dima, an alleged MILF commander and uncle of Allan Kamid, contracted them to kill Yabes and was promised P50,000 out of the P200,000 fee for the liquidation plot.
Police also implicated former Mayor Reganit in the killing following confirmation that one of the suspects reportedly stayed in the latter's house for three days before the murder.
After the killing of Yabes, the suspects reportedly fled and changed clothes near a compound owned by Reganit.
Raganit could not be reached for comment. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)