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NBI urged to probe American’s death in resort

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A LOCAL businessman in Mabalacat City has urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a separate investigation into the mysterious death of an American inside a resort in Barangay Camachiles years ago.

The resort, known as Terra Cotta Villas, Inc., owns several upscale villas in the barangay.

Remy Chu, a long-time businessman who claims ownership of the resort property, said a new investigation is necessary to get to the bottom of the circumstances behind the American's death.

"I believe that there are questions that remain unanswered after nearly three years of the case," Chu who said a close relative was the one operating Terra Cotta at the time of the American's death. The relative, Chu said, was known to be operating a home care business in the United States.

The Mabalacat Police has declared the case closed.

Police Officer 3 Roldan Marquez Tababa, who headed the investigation team, said the relatives of Chance Eugene Batchelor, 65, did not pursue any case against the caretaker of Terra Cotta and barangay officials.

The police also said that Batchelor's body did not undergo autopsy because of a waiver signed by the caretaker, Artemio Argallo and the driver of the barangay service vehicle identified as Jun Sabilo.

"That is why we ask for an NBI investigation to go deeper into what really happened because of the lack of autopsy and the absence of a report from the barangay," he said.

Chu said the waiver signed by the caretaker not to conduct an autopsy on the body of Batchelor was insufficient, if not illegal.

Tababa said the American passport and a copy of his death certificate were turned over to the United States Embassy.

The police had said that the officials of Barangay Camachiles and the operators of Terra Cotta may be held liable for their failure to report the incident to the police.

"We have to know who are liable in this case," Chu said who wondered whether the American was a tourist or a victim of human trafficking.

Terra Cotta's certificate of registration was revoked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) back in 2012 after fraud was discovered.

The SEC found that of the company's incorporators, all but one was American citizen contrary to the firm's articles of incorporation and these were not signed personally in the presence of a notary public at the time of notarization in violation of the Rules of Notarial Practice of 2004.

The Court of Appeals also dismissed a subsequent petition filed by the firm to annul the SEC ruling for lack of merit, among others, on March 25, 2014.

The Supreme Court ruled with finality on the revocation of the certificate of registration on July 18,2015.

The revocation, notwithstanding, the resort allegedly continues to operate according to some residents in Barangay Camachiles, although this has been denied an employee of Terra Cotta who refused to issue an official statement,

A city official has told Sun.Star Pampanga last week that Terra Cotta has not applied for a permit to operate until now.

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