Gang: She wanted to scare slain senior Philippine diplomat

MANILA: The leader of the gang that killed a senior Filipino diplomat in the Philippine capital last month identified yesterday the eldest sister of the victim as the brains behind the attack. 

Robert Lumagui identified Esther Ramos Balley as the one who prodded him to break into the house of slain senior diplomat Alicia Ramos on April 24 near the financial district of Makati. 

Esther was the eldest sister of Alicia who was then an assistant secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs. 

Lumagui, who was arrested on Monday in the northern province of Nueva Ecija, said he and three others broke into Alicia's house only to scare her and another sister Leticia. 

Alicia, a former ambassador to Singapore and New Zealand, was suffocated by packing tape over her face, while Leticia suffered bruises but was able to escape and sought the help of neighbours. 

Lumagui, a long-time handyman of Alicia and Leticia, said Esther wanted to scare her sisters because they were the one's managing the pension of her husband who was a former officer in the US armed forces. 

“She told me they (Alicia and Leticia) would not give her any money and would just provide her with the things she needs,” he told state prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco during the inquest proceedings. 

“Since December she (Esther) has been asking me to help her scare her sisters,” he added. “I just said I would do it but I kept putting it off because they have done so much for me,” he added. 

Lumagui said that a few weeks before they broke into the Ramos' house, three unidentified men poked a gun at him, threatening harm if he would not do what Esther ordered him. 

“She (Esther) also told me that if I would not do it she would just ask others to do it and if something goes wrong she would implicated me,” he said. 

“I would not want to go with other people for fear that they would kill me so I just formed my own team,” he added. 

Lumagui said Esther apparently has psychological problems and that sometimes she has to be brought to a hospital for treatment. – dpa  

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