CRIME SCENE The Jaro police and Scene of the Crime operatives scour the duplex house of Adelina Palma-Bermejo who was stabbed to death Thursday by a still unidentified suspect. (FAA)

CRIME SCENE The Jaro police and Scene of the Crime operatives scour the duplex house of Adelina Palma-Bermejo who was stabbed to death Thursday by a still unidentified suspect. (FAA)



By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THREE law enforcement agencies are now investigating the murder of Adelina Palma-Bermejo, aunt of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was stabbed to death inside her home at Brgy. Cubay, Jaro, Iloilo City Thursday.


Aside from the Jaro police station and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has also joined the investigation on request of Senator Santiago.


In a letter to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Santiago said her aunt could have been a victim of robbery.


“My aunt was a retired nurse, a balikbayan from the United States. She was living on her US pension. She was separated a long time ago from her husband. I believed that she was alone and defenseless when she was stabbed in the back. Presumably, the motive was theft, because of her pension,” Santiago said.


Bermejo was found dead Thursday in her house at Road 1, Kahirup Village in Barangay Cubay. She lived alone in a duplex house. The other unit was occupied by her son, Dr. Adino Bermejo of Iloilo Doctors Hospital, Santiago said.



Santiago said a neighbor of Bermejo heard her say, “Come in, Robert,” prior to the murder. Robert is the name of the houseboy of Bermejo’s sister, Liberty Ledesma who lives in Hechanova Street, LaPaz district.



Santiago said “Robert” was “sometimes sent on errands to the house” of Bermejo.


Bermejo was found dead by her sister Rosalina Cinco and brother Victor Palma. A stainless steel knife was still stuck in the victim’s back. She was declared dead on arrival at the West Visayas State University Medical Center past 12pm Thursday.


Gonzalez said he has ordered the NBI to help investigate and immediately resolve Bermejo’s case.


“Normally we allow the police to do their work but in cases like this the NBI must enter the picture. The NBI has more resources and expertise when it comes to crime detection and investigation,” Gonzalez said.


As of late Thursday afternoon, the NBI has identified the suspect who is a native of a central Iloilo town but refused to elaborate pending their hot pursuit operations.


Eddie Peñaflor, caretaker of Kahirup Village, said a certain “Robert” asked him around 11am the other day if Bermejo was home.


Peñaflor said he asked Robert his purpose for visiting the victim.


“He said he wanted to apply as driver but I told him that Bermejo’s car is under repair after it went under floodwater last June,” Peñaflor said.


Peñaflor said Robert proceeded to Bermejo’s house and knocked on her gate. When the victim learned that her visitor was Robert, she invited him inside her house.


The village caretaker then heard Bermejo raise her voice at Robert saying “You always ask for cash advances but you don’t pay back.”


“The scolding went on for some 30 minutes and after that the house went quiet. I was later surprised when Rosalina Cinco shouted for help saying her sister was stabbed,” Peñaflor said.


The Jaro police and the Scene of the Crime Operatives led by Chief Insp. Arnold Bancaya said the drawers and closets in Bermejo’s duplex were ransacked by the suspect.



Liberty Palma-Ledesma, a sister of the victim, confirmed that Robert is her househelp.


Ledesma said over Aksyon Radyo that Robert sometimes ran errands for Bermejo. He also recommended a cousin to work for the victim.


Ledesma also recounted that Bermejo once ran into trouble with a former househelp identified only as Evelyn. But the dispute, which involved alleged maltreatment of the helper, was amicably settled.


Ledesma said the motive for her sister’s death may be robbery or retaliation by her former workers.


“She’s very strict and does not easily trust strangers,” Ledesma added.


Dimpna Palma-Defensor, mother of Senator Santiago, said her sister was very security cautious and had a tendency to fight back.


Dimpna said the victim did not keep large amount of money in her house.


“Maybe she only has P10,000 with her but for a poor man that is a large amount,” she added.