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 By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO of the three suspects who allegedly robbed and raped a wife in San Enrique, Iloilo last weekend surrendered to the police yesterday.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said Raymund Alarba and Raffy Aguilar both of Brgy. Braulan, San Enrique yielded through their uncle.

Alarba and Aguilar are two of the three suspects who allegedly robbed and raped a wife Friday evening.

The third suspect, William Altamia, remains at-large.

Dela Paz said the suspects have pending warrants of arrest for robbery and other criminal charges.

The victim positively identified the suspects during a lineup at the San Enrique municipal hall.

The rape case has caused uproar in San Enrique with Mayor Trixie Fernandez offering cash reward to those tipsters who can help the police catch the suspects.

Dela Paz urged residents of Brgy. Braulan to help the police collar suspected criminals in their village.

The IPPO chief said some of the residents don’t cooperate with authorities, the reason why the suspects remain free.

San Enrique officials urged Altamia to surrender and face the accusations against him.

 

Beautiful poseur-buyer lures suspect to Pdea’s hands

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IT TOOK a beauteous female agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to cause the arrest of one of the top drug personalities in Western Visayas.

 

John Rey Prevendido, 18, of Brgy. Bakhaw, Mandurriao district was arrested inside room 137 of Queen’s Court past 7pm Tuesday following an entrapment operation by the PDEA.

 

A female PDEA member pretended to buy P1,000 worth of shabu from Prevendido.

 

But the suspect took interest in the PDEA agent and told her that he will give her P4,000 worth of shabu for free if she agrees to have sex with him at Queen’s Court motel.

 

The agent informed her superiors about Prevendido’s proposal. A team of PDEA agents then waited at the motel until the pair arrived and entered room.

 

The arresting team barged inside the room after the poseur-buyer signaled that Prevendido was taking a shower.

 

The suspected drug pusher was taken by surprise and did not resist the PDEA members.

 

Recovered from Prevendido was P5,000 worth of suspected shabu.

 

Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA regional director, said Prevendido is one of the top 10 drug personalities in Western Visayas.

 

The PDEA chief also tagged Brgy. Bakhaw, where Prevendido hails, as the top source of illegal drugs in the region.

 

“Bakhaw is the number 1 source of illegal drugs in the region. Persons from other provinces go to Bakhaw to buy illegal drugs. Their sources are from Manila and Mindanao,” Sanchez added.

 

Prevendido is the son of Richard Prevendido who has also been tagged in the illegal drug trade.

 

Sanchez refused to confirm if Richard Prevendido is also included in the watch list of illegal drug pushers.

 

“We will tell everything if we arrest Richard,” Sanchez said.

 

The PDEA is trying to unlock Prevendido’s cellphone to find out his sources and associates in the illegal drug trade.

 

“With Prevendido’s arrest, we believe that the illegal drug trade in Bakhaw will slow down. PDEA will continue to monitor other members of the gang and we will arrest them in time,” Sanchez said.

 

Prevendido was also involved in the shooting of Vincent dela Llana, a grandson of former Iloilo City Vice Mayor Guillermo dela Llana, February 2008 in Molo district. But the charges filed against him were dismissed by the Regional Trial Court.    

 

The Daily Guardian tried to get Prevendido’s side but her refused to be interviewed inside the Mandurriao police jail. 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A DETAINEE is suspected of mounting a swindling operation right inside the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Brgy. Ungka, Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

Chief Inspector Ramona Anico, BJMP warden, accused inmate Gil Pabriaga of using the prison’s telephone line to milk money from a certain Boy.

 

Anico said Pabriaga called his would be victim and introduced himself as a relative.

 

Pabriaga then told Boy that one of their cousins was involved in a shooting incident and needs P15,000.

 

But Boy doubted smelled something fishy with the call which he later traced via caller ID to the BJMP facility.

 

Anico said charges of swindling can be filed against Pabriaga if Boy decides to file a case.

 

Pabriaga is the leader of the “Black Liston Gang” tagged in the series of robbery-hold-up of several establishments in Iloilo City, Bacolod City and some places in Metro Manila.

 

Phone scams have been exposed following the arrest of suspected swindler Gilbert Tuliva, a native of Brgy. 9, Tigbauan, Iloilo.

 

Tuliva is believed to be the brains behind the text/telephone scams that employ fictitious raffle draws to milk money from their victims.

 

Another scheme used by Tuliva’s group is to pose as consular or embassy officials and inform relatives of overseas Filipino workers that they husband or son was injured and needs a large sum of money in order to be transported back to the Philippines.

 

The latest phone scam involved persons posing as Attys. Benipayo and Jimenez who are demanding payment for outstanding credit card accounts from their victims.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ROUND up the “callboys.”

 

This was the latest order of Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) as they try to crack the case of a foundation executive who was found dead inside his hotel room Tuesday morning.

 

Cuevas said they suspect that the culprits in the death of Epi Ramos of Cabatuan, Iloilo might be callboys or male sex workers who either work in nightspots or as freelancers.

 

Ramos, a native of Cabatuan, Iloilo, succumbed to 21 stab wounds in his body, according to the autopsy report of the PNP Crime Laboratory. He was found dead inside room 44 of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel Tuesday morning.

 

Ramos was the chief executive officer of the Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation Inc., a partner organization of the Department of Health. 

 

The victim checked in the hotel January 24 for a seminar on diseases identification mounted by their foundation in behalf of the DOH.

 

Cuevas said a syndicate preying on homosexuals is behind Ramos’ death.

 

The group takes advantage of their victims’ sexual preference in order to rob and kill them, Cuevas added.

 

Cuevas ordered the Iloilo City Police Office to resolve the case immediately even as he advised hotels to implement stricter security measures.  

 

ICPO officer-in-charge Eugenio Espejo said they will try to trace callboys in the city.

 

The suspects in Ramos’ death are nowhere to be found, according to the Iloilo City police.

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City proper police station chief, said the two culprits cannot be found in their respective addresses.

 

Carganillo said they were able to establish the identities of the suspects through the testimonies of witnesses who recently surfaced.

 

The police also came up with a facial sketch of one of the suspects based on the witnesses’ statements.

 

Police investigation said Ramos and the suspects went inside Room 404 past 8pm Monday.

 

If there is one glitch in the investigation of the case, it’s the scant information police gathered from security guard Jeffrey Lagayan who was on duty at the hotel Monday evening to Tuesday morning.

 

Carganillo said they did not get enough details from Lagayan as regards the suspects’ profiles because there was no record of their movement in the hotel.

 

Lagayan earlier said he can only recognize the suspects, who went out of the hotel past 1am Tuesday, through their body build.

 

The security guard said he failed to see the faces of the culprits when they went out of the hotel.

 

Scene of the crime operatives recovered latent fingerprints inside the room which Carganillo said could help in solving the incident.

 

Robbery remains the motive for Ramos’ death after police found out that the P100,000 registration fee of the seminar participants was missing from his room.

 

Also missing were the victim’s two laptop computers, two cellphones and his wallet containing undetermined amount of cash.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE illegal drugs syndicates are also feeling the pinch of the global economic crisis, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6).

 

Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA-6 regional director, said shabu sold on the streets are laced with chemicals such as tawas or alum and naphthalene after raw materials for the “poor man’s cocaine” increased.

 

Naphthalene is the main ingredient of insect repellants.

 

Sanchez said the increase in prices of shabu chemicals could be attributed to the global financial crisis and intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

 

The PDEA chief warned drug users that shabu sold nowadays are more dangerous because of tawas and naphthalene.

 

Based on their monitoring reports, Sanchez said shabu is sold at P12, 000 to P15, 000 per gram.

 

Drug users have now shifted to Ecstacy and cocaine which are relatively cheaper than shabu.

 

Sanchez said they are also monitoring the entry of prohibited substances in Jaro, Iloilo City which will celebrate its annual fiesta Monday.

 

The PDEA chief said several drug personalities were spotted in Jaro district.

 

REWARD

 

The Iloilo provincial Capitol will allocate P1 million in support of the “all-out-war” against the illegal drug trade.

 

Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. yesterday directed all chiefs of police in 42 municipalities and one component city to “wipe out” illegal drugs in the province, which he described as the biggest menace to society.

 

“Illegal drugs pose the biggest threat to our people,” Tupas told a command conference held at the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) at Camp Sumagaysay, Sta. Barbara.

 

“We have to throw everything we’ve got at these drug syndicates,” he added.

 

Tupas said he will accept no excuses for failure because the perennial problem of inadequate resources will now be addressed by the Iloilo provincial government.

 

The P1-million fund will be utilized for a system of rewards, training and transportation needs of the PNP working in tandem with the PDEA, provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada said.

 

Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. (5th district, Iloilo) vowed to secure more budgetary funding for the operations of the PDEA and the Dangerous Drugs Board in the 2010 budget.

 

Describing the present appropriations for PDEA and DDB as “puny”, the younger Tupas said the government is only showing that it is not serious about defeating the drug problem in the country.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City police are gathering more information on the identities of the suspects who stabbed to death a ranking official of a Department of Health (DOH)-affiliated foundation.

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City police station 1 chief, said they are looking at two suspects in the murder of Epi Ramos, chief executive officer of the Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation Inc., a partner organization of the DOH.

 

Ramos, 37, of Magallon Street, Cabatuan, Iloilo, was found dead inside Room 404 of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel on Jalandoni Street, Iloilo City proper Tuesday morning.

 

He succumbed to more than 20 stab wounds in his chest and head.

 

The victim checked in the hotel January 24 for a seminar on diseases identification mounted by their foundation in behalf of the DOH.

 

Citing the initial information they gathered from the victim’s associates, Carganillo said the Ramos knew the suspects because he allowed them inside his room between 8:30 pm and 9 pm Monday.

 

Carganillo said robbery is the main motive in the crime because of the missing items and cash from Ramos’ room.

 

Missing from Ramos’ room was more than P100,000 registration fee of the seminar participants, two laptop computers, two cellphones and the victim’s wallet containing undetermined amount of cash.

 

Carganillo said they have yet to get more information from security Jeffrey Lagayan who was on duty at the hotel entrance Monday evening.

 

Lagayan said he saw two young males leave the hotel premises around 1am Tuesday. One male wore a brown shirt while the other was clad in a black shirt.

 

Lagayan said he can only identify the two persons by their body build as he failed to clearly see their faces.

 

Carganillo said their investigation could have been easier if the hotel management had records of their guests’ visitors.

 

But investigators are pinning their hopes on the fingerprints found be scene of crime operatives inside Ramos’ room.

 

Ramos graduated valedictorian from Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School in 1988. He once worked as a medical technologist of the Cabatuan Rural Health Unit.

Honda shooting suspect denies charges but confirms offer

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE person tagged in the shooting to death of a manager of Honda Cars-Iloilo confirmed being offered the contract on victim’s head last December 2008.

 

Rodolfo Reconquista, 50, of Poblacion, Pototan, Iloilo relayed this information to Senior Insp. Ronaldo Palomo, Iloilo City Mobile Group (ICMG) deputy chief.

 

Reconquista was “picked up” Friday afternoon at brgy. Poblacion, Pototan by members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Mandurriao police station and the ICMG.

 

Reconquista said a certain Dolfo hired his services to kill Rustico Vega, service manager of Honda Cars-Iloilo along Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City. The offer came before Christmas Day last year.

 

But Reconquista said he turned down the offer because he could not carry out the mission. He was later surprised when he heard in the news that Vega was gunned down January 9.

 

Reconquista said the plot on Vega’s life was planned at Brgys. Bolilao and Bakhaw, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

But he could not ascertain the gunmen and mastermind of the assassination plot even as he denied having a hand in the crime.

 

Palomo said Reconquista was later released from NBI custody Saturday because he was arrested after “hot pursuit operation period”.

 

The Iloilo City Prosecutors Office advised the PNP and the NBI to release Reconquista to avoid legal complications.

 

Palomo said they were able to link Reconquista to Vega’s case based on the testimonies of a witness and the facial sketch of the alleged gunman.

 

The facial sketch was based on the statement of a witness who saw Reconquista in Molo, Iloilo City minutes after the shooting. The witness said Reconquista was wearing a black jacket and held a helmet which fit the police’s description of Vega’s gunman.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) said it has identified the suspects in the robbery and killing of a retired Australian police in Ajuy, Iloilo last January 6.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said they will reveal the names of the suspects in the killing of Australian national Werner Holz once they have filed criminal charges against them.

 

As to the motive, dela Paz said this will be known in the case that they will file anytime soon.

 

Dela Paz said they are carefully putting together important details in the case to come up with an airtight case against the suspects.

 

Dela Paz said members of Task Force Werner did not rush the investigation so that they can study every piece of information that cam their way.

 

“We want to make sure that we have all the right information so we can put up a strong case against the suspects,” he added.

 

Three suspects barged inside the room of Holz and his wife Vivian nee Posadas, early morning of January 6.

 

The suspects stabbed the victim 24 times and took away more than P1 million worth of cash and jewelry.

 

A P100,000 reward is offered to persons who can provide information on the suspects in the Holz’s death.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE brutal murder and robbery of a 62-year-old Australian last Tuesday may have been set up by a member of his household, the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) said.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they are eyeing “inside job” in the murder of Werner Holz, a former policeman believed to be from Melbourne, Australia.

 

“We are focusing on the possibility of an inside job in this case because the suspects were very familiar with the Holz residence. The suspects knew every nook and cranny of the house and which room to enter,” he said.

 

Cuevas said somebody from Holz’s household may have tipped off the suspects about the victim’s movements and on possible points of entry into the house.

 

“Based on our investigation, the suspects entered the house through the emergency exit in the bathroom of the master bedroom. Apparently, someone told the suspects about the emergency exit,” Cuevas said.

 

Cuevas said they are also investigating relatives of Holz’s wife, Vivian Posadas-Holz, who used to work for the family.

 

He said several persons related to his wife used to work for Holz “but they left because of some conflicts.”

 

“That might explain why the suspects wore masks because they are familiar to the victim,” the PRO-6 chief said.

 

Cuevas said investigators are also looking into Holz’s relationship with his wife and her relatives in Ajuy and business management.

 

“We have gathered information that the Holz couple are always arguing. Holz also regained control of their business from Vivian,” he said.

 

Cuevas said the hesitation of the house helps to respond to Vivian’s cry for help thinking the couple is fighting again proves that they were not in good terms.

 

Holz and his wife had been living in Ajuy for 10 years and were engaged in money-lending, pig farming and trading.

 

The Australian national reportedly transferred ownership of their businesses and properties to his youngest daughter from his first marriage.

 

“Everybody is a suspect here, including the family and household staff. We are looking into every personality and angle involved in this case,’ Cuevas said.

 

Aside from Vivian, the other companions of the victim inside the house at the time of the incident were their 7-year-old son Kevin; Elizabeth (Holz’s daughter from his first marriage); Kevin’s nanny and the house help.

 

To recall, three masked men forced their way into Holz’s bedroom Tuesday and stabbed him 24 times in the chest, back and neck.

 

They then forced Vivian Posadas-Holz to open a safe from which they took P1.2 million pesos in cash and jewelry.

 

Investigators are baffled with the immaculately clean crime scene which did not yield any latent fingerprint of the suspects.

 

A police officer in Task Force Werner who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the case said the crime scene may have been swept clean before scene of the crime operatives arrived.

 

Or the suspects may have used hand gloves, the investigator added.

 

The Ajuy police headed by Senior Insp. Ariel Artillero also found it difficult to extract more information from Vivian.

 

Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra said it was providing consular assistance to the Holz family.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ROBBERY, old grudges and business rivalry are the possible motives being eyed in the murder and robbery of an Australian national in a coastal village of Ajuy early morning Tuesday.

 

Werner Holz, 62, a retired police officer from Australia, died of more than 20 stab wounds in his chest, back and neck.

 

Holz’s stab-riddled body was found past 4am yesterday in his bed inside his 1.5-hectare beach front residence at Brgy. Pili, Ajuy.

 

Based on the testimonies of Holz’s Ilongga wife, Vivian Posadas-Holz, her husband went outside their house past 12 midnight to urinate.

 

Five minutes after he returned to bed, three masked men wielding pistols and a knife barged inside their room.

 

Two of the suspects immediately overpowered the 6-foot, 5-inch Holz and repeatedly stabbed him. Dr. Noel Martinez, PNP medico legal, said Holz died of 24 stab wounds in the body and neck.

 

The third suspect then ordered Vivian to open the safety vault inside the master’s bedroom. According to the initial count by investigators, the suspects took away an estimated P200,000 cash, US$5,000 cash and P800,000 worth of jewelry from the vault.

 

The suspects then tied up Vivian and locked her inside the comfort room. When the suspects left, the wife cried for help but the nanny of their 7-year-old son only responded to her plea around 4am.

 

The unidentified nanny said she did not mind Vivian’s cry for help thinking that the couple were arguing inside their room. But when the nanny entered the master’s bedroom, she saw the bloodied Holz on the bed.

 

The Holz household then asked help from their neighbors who called Pili barangay officials and tanods to the crime scene.

 

PROFESSIONALS

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, immediately went to Ajuy to personally lead the investigation on the incident.

 

Dela Paz described the case as a work of professionals as indicated by their manner of entry and the swiftness of the operation.

 

“Initially, the motive is plain robbery but we are digging deeper into the background of the victim so we can include other motives that led to the incident,” dela Paz said.

 

To ensure that their intrusion will not rouse attention from Holz’s neighbors, the suspects fed the victim’s two pet dogs with food laced with tranquilizers.

 

“It is possible that the suspects forced their way inside the house or they were already inside the residence. Or maybe they sneaked inside while Holtz was urinating outside their house,” dela Paz said.

 

Punong Barangay Emmanuel Asumbra of Pili said the dogs drooled and appeared dazed hours after the crime was discovered, an indication that the animals were drugged.

 

Their initial investigation indicated the culprits wore masks and gloves to avoid leaving their fingerprints in the crime scene.

 

The fact that they had no remorse in killing Holz also indicates that the suspects were professionals, dela Paz added.

 

The police also noticed that only the front and back yards of the Holz’s residence was lighted at night.

 

The main house and the adjoining guest houses, which are facing the sea, are made of nipa and wood. The master’s bedroom is air-conditioned, thus the noise from within is muffled.

 

Dela Paz said the couple’s companion inside the house were their 7-year-old son, Holz’s daughter from his previous marriage, the nanny and househelp who is also a sister of Vivian.

 

“The suspects patterned the movement of the victims by conducting surveillance on the couple. The hit was systematic and fast. We continue to investigate the case until we have ascertained the motive and the suspects are identified,” the IPPO chief said.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AUSTRALIAN national Werner Holz, who was stabbed to death by three robbers inside his home early morning Tuesday, was a generous but strict person.

 

After retiring from the Australian police service, Holz and his Ilongga wife Vivian Posadas-Holz, moved to Brgy. Pili, Ajuy more than 10 years ago. The couple then purchased a 1.5-hectare beachfront lot in the said village.

 

Iloilo 5th district Board Member Jett Rojas said he encountered Holz on several occasions when he was still mayor of Ajuy.

 

Rojas said the Holz couple lends money to farmers aside from engaging in piggery and buy-and-sell ventures. The couple also bought a property in Iloilo City.

 

Rojas recounted previous issues involving Holz, particularly the Australian’s confrontations with residents and local officials of Ajuy.

 

“There was a time when he went to my office to complain about the fishpens in front of their beach property which he considered as eyesores. He wanted to remove the pens which the owners resisted because it is their only means of livelihood,” Rojas said.

 

The board member also recalled a confrontation between Holz and a punong barangay over the Australian national’s piggery.

 

Rojas said Holz closed a road-right-of-way which traversed the piggery to the chagrin of the residents.

 

“The local officials then asked my help to negotiate with Holz if he can donate a portion of his property for the right-of-way. It was resolved in the end but the road was not as convenient as the old path,” Rojas said.

 

Rojas said he noticed that Holz was very hard to deal with and “used very harsh words.”

 

“He was very strict and particular with his properties. But he was also generous to his neighbors and the community,” he added.

 

The provincial board member also noticed that the Holz were seldom invited to parties hosted by other expatriates in Ajuy.

 

“He seems to be an outcast. I was invited to these parties and I noticed that Holz was not present,” Rojas said.

 

Punong Barangay Emmanuel Asumbra of Pili said Holz was “a very generous soul.”

 

“He also participated in some of our activities, especially-sports related events. He even sponsored one basketball team with complete uniforms,” Asumbra said.

 

Asumbra, however, confirmed Holz’s strict ways when it comes to his properties.

 

Rojas said the police should consider in their investigation old grudges.

 

“This is the first time that this kind of crime happened in our town. And we are concerned that this will drive away prospective investors, particularly expatriates who want to reside and do business in Ajuy,” Rojas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE management of Savannah Subdivision in Mandurriao, Iloilo City has sacked its security agency after one of its guards was involved in the death of resident Claire Nueros last month.

Engineer Ernesto Concio Jr., production head of Savannah Communities, said they terminated the services of Elegance Security Agency to show that they don’t tolerate criminality in their subdivision projects.

Concio said Elegance guards will only render duty until end of this month.

Nueros was found dead inside her house in Savannah Subdivision at Brgy. Abilay Norte, Oton, Iloilo last August 3.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Oton police station have tagged Elegance guard Severino Sangrador and brothers Niño and Severo Segumban as the prime suspects in the Nueros case.

Segumban’s brother Benigno identified the suspects after the police recovered the weapons allegedly used in the crime and items stolen from Nueros’ house.

Concio said they also heightened their security setup inside the subdivision by deploying more guards and installing lights in dark portions of the gated community.

The developer also put up barriers in the Abilay portion of the subdivision to prevent intrusion in the residential area.

Capiz Board Member Esteban Contreras, owner of Elegance Security Agency, said he understands the decision of the Savannah management even as he urged Sangrador to surrender.

Iloilo Provincial Police Office director Ricardo dela Paz said they will help in the hunt for Sangrador and Segumban.

Dela Paz said the suspects cannot hide forever “because we will eventually catch up with them.”

Senior Insp. Vicente Castor, Oton police chief, said they have filed robbery with homicide charges against Benigno Segumban who hid the weapons and stolen items.

Castor said they will file separate charges for rape with homicide against the other suspects once they arrested.

Guarded by heavily-armed police officers, Dennis Cartagena arrives at the Iloilo domestic port Thursday morning. (FAA photo)

Guarded by heavily-armed police officers, Dennis Cartagena arrives at the Iloilo domestic port Thursday morning. (FAA photo)

Jett Rojas: Stop it Nonoy Etik!

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO provincial board member Jett Rojas, cousin of slain vice mayor Ramon Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo, virtually pleaded for his life as he confirmed the identity of the mastermind of the sensational murder case.

Without batting an eyelash, board member Rojas entreated his cousin Vicente “Etik” Espinosa to stop the alleged plans to assassinate their family members.

BM Rojas said Dennis Cartagena, one of the alleged gunmen who killed the vice mayor, admitted to him that it was Espinosa who ordered the hit.

Cartagena requested to talk to board member Rojas upon arriving at the provincial capitol yesterday morning.

The board member said he was able to talk to Cartagena for 30 minutes to find out the details of the plot.

“Cartagena confirmed that the mastermind was Vicente “Etik” alias Bulldog Espinosa of Brgy. Lanjagan, Ajuy. This means a lot to the Rojas family to hear that it was Etik Espinosa who ordered them to kill vice mayor Rojas,” the board member said.

Cartagena is believed Cartagena is believed to be the driver of the motorcycle used in the assassination. Edgar Cordero, who was shot to death in Butuan City last week, was tagged as Rojas’s triggerman.

The board member representing the fifth district also discovered the alleged plans of Espinosa to liquidate him, Ajuy Mayor Juancho Alvarez and town councilor Pepe Baterna.

“That confirmed the intelligence report we got that there are more targets. They already got the vice mayor but they were also planning to kill me, the mayor and Councilor Baterna. Their focus was on me and Mayor Alvarez because Baterna was a ‘minimal’ target. Even before, we believe 99.9 percent that Espinosa was the mastermind,” he said.

Rojas said Espinosa should abort his plans “for the sake of our children.”

“We appeal to our cousin, Nonoy Etik, why do you want to kill us? We have our children who love us. We hope that he will discontinue that because he also has his own children and we are cousins. We ask his parents and siblings to convince Etik not to pursue the (plot) because our family will be affected,” board member Rojas said.

Rojas said Cartagena was thankful to survive the attack on their lives in Butuan City “because he believes that he still has a purpose.”

“That was divine intervention. Cartagena promised to tell everything he knows after surviving the attack,” the board member said.

Board member Rojas said politics or personal grudges could be the reason behind the plot on their lives.

“But we cousins are very close to each other. The slain vice mayor even goes to occasions in Nonoy Etik’s house. Before the election (May 2007), I was able to talk to Etik,” Rojas said.

BUTUAN INCIDENT

Councilor Baterna said Cartagena tagged Lindsay “Baby” Buenavista as one of the gunmen who shot him and Cordero at Brgy. Mahay, Butuan City Friday last week.

Cordero died in the shooting while Cartagena survived.

Buenavista was also tagged in the Rojas slay case but he was exonerated by the provincial prosecutors office for lack of evidence.

Baterna said Buenavista’s uncle, Jose Bajade, trapped them into the ambush by inviting them to a birthday party in Butuan.

Before they went down to the city, which is some 15 kilometers from Brgy. Don Francisco where they hid, Bajade took Cordero’s caliber .38 revolver. Bajade drove the motorcycle to Butuan City.

Upon reaching Brgy. Mahay, Bajade stopped to urinate. Then the shots rang and Cordero fell to the ground mortally wounded.

Cartagena was able to flee and sought the help of a group of men drinking liquor. He said he saw Buenavista riding on Bajade’s motorcycle.

“Bajade and Buenavista planned to kill them. They were led to the trap. Maybe Bajade also shot the two using Cordero’s revolver,” Baterna said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WILL Dennis “Totong” Cartagena, one of the suspects in the murder of vice mayor Ramon Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo, turn state witness after revealing what he personally knew about the assassination?

Only the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office (IPPO) can determine, depending on his participation, if Cartagena is qualified to become a witness after tagging Vicente “Etik” Espinosa as the alleged brains of Rojas’ death.

Cartagena is believed to be the driver of the motorcycle used in the assassination. Edgar Cordero, who was shot to death in Butuan City last week, was tagged as the triggerman.

Public Attorneys Office-6 assistant regional director Jose Edmund Guillen, whom Cartagena chose as legal counsel, said the police can still file another case against Espinosa which will include Cartagena’s statement.

“The principle of double jeopardy applies to cases that were dismissed by the courts. But if the case was dismissed by the prosecutors for lack of probable cause, new charges can be filed if there is new body of evidence,” Guillen said.

The Iloilo Provincial Police Office earlier accused Espinosa and Lindsey “Baby” Buenavista of hatching Rojas’s assassination. But the provincial prosecutor dismissed the charges last month for lack of evidence.

But the IPPO said fresh charges can be lodged against Espinosa and Buenavista if there is new “quantum of evidence.”

Guillen said it is up to the prosecution whether to make Cartagena a state witness.

“At the time he issues a statement, he is a suspect because he is part of the alleged crime. It really depends on the prosecution whether to make him a witness during the trial,” Guillen added.

SUSPECT FEARS FOR HIS LIFE

Cartagena arrived past 9am Thursday from Butuan City, where he and alleged triggerman Edgar Cordero hid for more than a month, along with a team of heavily-armed police officers.

Wearing a light brown sweater, maong pants, sneakers and a bullet proof vest, Cartagena sported a fearful grimace as he alighted from the St. Joseph the Worker ship of Negros Navigation.

Members of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office special weapons and tactics team turned their gaze around the Iloilo domestic port after receiving reports that Cartagena will be assassinated upon reaching Iloilo.

Cartagena was whisked inside a black AUV and transported to the Iloilo provincial capitol where he was presented to the media and later underwent deposition before Police Regional Office-6 legal officer Aaron Lirazan.

The Rojas slay suspect was lodged in the pantry of the Governor’s Office where he rested after their trip from Cagayan de Oro.

A commotion broke out when Atty. Christopher Espera insisted that he accompany Cartagena at the Capitol.

A visibly irate Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo provincial police director, let Cartagena and Espera face each other to determine if the former indeed hired the lawyer’s services.

“I don’t know him. I did not hire him,” Cartagena said before the media and Capitol officials.

Espera, a junior associate of Atty. Edeljulio Romero who defended Espinosa, said he was hired by a relative of Cartagena whom he did not identify citing lawyer-client relationship.

“While we were in Butuan, Cartagena was already using my services by running some errands for him and his live-in partner. But things suddenly changed when the police arrived,” Espera said.

Espera said he will not anymore help Cartagena after disowning him.

As of this writing, Cartagena is still undergoing deposition at the Provincial Legal Office.

Ajuy Councilor Pepe Baterna and provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, who observed Cartagena’s investigation, said the suspect gave every detail of the Rojas slay case.

“He did mention Espinosa as the one who ordered the hit. He remembered the dates and time of their meetings and events. He even corrects Atty. Lirazan who was encoding his statements,” Baterna said.

Mejorada said Cartagena gave his statements voluntarily through question and answer mode.

Police: Cartagena admits role in Rojas slay case

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

DENNIS Cartagena, one of the suspects in the killing of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas, is singing like a canary.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director said Cartagena has admitted his involvement in the shooting to death of Rojas in Ajuy town proper last May 22.

Dela Paz and a team of the IPPO Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team fetched Cartagena from Butuan City where he was arrested Sunday afternoon.

Cartagena’s co-accused, suspected triggerman Edgar Cordero, was killed in a shooting incident at Brgy. Mahay, Butuan City Friday evening. Cordero’s killers remain at-large.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he dispatched dela Paz to Butuan City “to ensure the safety and security of Cartagena.”

Dela Paz said the Butuan City police turned over Cartagena to the IPPO custody yesterday morning.

“In our conversation, he admitted his participation in the assassination of vice mayor Rojas,” dela Paz said.

The IPPO director said he will reveal more details on Cartagena’s confession when they arrive in Iloilo.

Dela Paz said Cartagena’s cooperation in the investigation will resolve the Rojas slay case.

As of presstime, Cartagena and the IPPO team are on their way back to Region 6.

Cuevas said Cartagena’s statement can only corroborate the statements of other witnesses in the murder charges now pending with the Regional Trial Court.

“Under the law, the judicial confessions cannot implicate other personalities in the case but such can support the allegations of the witnesses. The suspect cannot incriminate another person but he can narrate facts that will strengthen the case,” Cuevas said.

Since Cartagena is one of the major suspects in the case, “he cannot become a witness since he is the least innocent.”

“But he will be treated as a high risk detainee because of his involvement in the case,” Cuevas said.

Cartagena is believed to be the driver of the motorcycle used in the assassination while Cordero pulled the trigger on Rojas.

Lindesy Buenavista was accused of helping plan the assassination while businessman Vicente Espinosa was the alleged mastermind.

But the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office dismissed the charges against Buenavista and Espinosa.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

EDGAR Cordero and Dennis Cartagena may have been trapped into an ambush Friday last week.

 

This is the assessment of the Butuan City police as they try to figure out the shooting incident which resulted in the death of Cordero, the alleged gunman of slain vice mayor Ramon Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo.

 

Supt. Jun Dumo, Butuan City police precinct 1 chief, said Joe Bajade, the man who drove the motorcycle Cordero and Cartagena rode on last week, may have set up the two Rojas slay suspect.

 

Citing his conversation with Cartagena, Dumo said it was Bajade who stopped to urinate near an unfinished bridge at Brgy. Mahay, Butuan City.

 

“While they were relieving themselves, several shots rang and Cartagena saw Cordero hit in his body. Cartagena then sought cover to avoid being shot. After the gunfire, he saw two emerge from a dark area where the shots came and boarded Bajade’s motorcycle. We have reason to believe that Bajade might be involved in this incident. He remains at-large as of now,” Dumo said.

 

Dumo said Bajade, who is believed to be a native of Passi City, accompanied Cordero and Cartagena from Iloilo to Butuan more than a month ago.

 

“Dati na silang magkasama pa dyan sa Iloilo. Bajade is married to a member of the Ecleo family in Dumagat Island reason why they have a house here,” Dumo added.

 

Dumo said they will charge Bajade with murder for the death of Cordero and frustrated murder for the failed attempt on Cartagena’s life.

 

But who is Bajade?

 

Further check with the police later showed that Bajade might be a relative of Lindsey Buenavista, one of the suspects in the Rojas murder case. Records from the Banate police station show that Buenavista’s middle name is Bajade.

 

Buenavista’s father Rudy earlier claimed that Cordero and Cartagena stayed in their house in days before Rojas was gunned down in Ajuy town proper.

 

The Buenavista residence allegedly served as the safehouse for Cordero and Cartagena through the help of Lindsey Buenavista.

 

But Rudy Buenavista later retracted his statements for still unknown reasons.

 

The Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office has exonerated Lindsey Buenavista and alleged mastermind Vicente Espinosa from the murder charges for lack of sufficient charges.

 

The Banate police personnel said Buenavista is facing carnapping with homicide charges for the killing of a businessman in Banate May this year.

 

 

MORE TWISTS

Another twist in the Rojas slay case is the surprise visit of a lawyer identified with the law office that defended Espinosa.

 

Atty. Edeljulio Romero, one of the Espinos counsels, said his junior associate, Christopher Aspera, went to Butuan City Sunday upon request of a client.

 

Romero refused to name the person who sent Aspera to Butuan City citing the confidentiality of the lawyer-client relationship.

 

Romero said he was at first hesitant to allow Aspera to help Cartagena “because it is complicated.”

 

“I was one of the major players in the case being the lawyer of Espinosa. But I since he is a young lawyer, he also needs to handle big cases such as this for his career advancement,” Romero said.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo provincial police director, and a team of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team personally fetched Cartagena from Butuan City.

 

Dela Paz said Cartagena was surprised with the sudden appearance of Aspera at the Butuan City police precinct to offer his legal services.

 

“Cartagena said he does not know Aspera and refused the latter’s offer,” dela Paz said. (With reports from Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo)

‘IT WASN’T ME’ Michael Mediana shows the boat and plane tickets to prove that he was in Bukidnon province in Mindanao when fire marshal Casiano del Castillo was shot to death August 22. (Photo by Tara Yap)

‘IT WASN’T ME’ Michael Mediana shows the boat and plane tickets to prove that he was in Bukidnon province in Mindanao when fire marshal Casiano del Castillo was shot to death August 22. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ONE of the suspects in the assassination of fire marshal Casiano del Castillo surfaced yesterday to clear himself of the murder charges filed by the police with the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office.

Michael Mediana of Brgy. Mandog, Maasin, Iloilo flew from Bukidnon to Iloilo after learning last August 28 that he was being tagged in the del Castillo slay case.

Accompanied by Maasin Mayor Mariano Malones Jr., Mediana faced the media at the office of board member Mariano Malones Sr. to clear his name of the accusations.

Mediana said he went to Bukidnon August 8 onboard Negros Navigation passenger ship St. Joseph the Worker.

“I stayed in the town of Maramag to look for work. I was not here when del Castillo was killed,” Mediana said.

Del Castillo was shot to death around 5pm of August 22 while walking home at Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo, Iloilo City.

Mediana, who used to work as account supervisor of Lifebank in Dueñas town, said he was forced to leave Iloilo after he was involved in the alleged “holdup me” incident in Dingle, Iloilo last month.

“I went to Bukidnon out of shame for what happened. My cousin only set me up which made the police think that it was a case of ‘holdup me’. If I was part of the plan, why would I use my own number? The management of Lifebank did not charge me because they knew my side,” Mediana said.

Mediana said a friend informed him August 28 that he was one of the suspects in the del Castillo slay case. This prompted him to fly back to Iloilo onboard an Air Philippines flight from Davao. He also sought the help of Mayor Malones to provide him security from the airport.

“I was not here when the incident happened. Even my supposed photo which the police used as basis for the charges against me does not match my profile. How can I be involved in this case?” Mediana added.

Mediana also expressed his willingness to face the police and the eyewitnesses to prove his innocence.

Mayor Malones vouched for Mediana’s innocence saying the former is an ex-Sangguniang Kabataan chairman in their town.

“He has no crime record in our town and his favorite activity is to dance, not kill people. Maybe he is a victim of mistaken identity,” Malones said.

The Arevalo police last week filed murder charges against Mediana and a John Doe.

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