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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A POLICE officer assigned at the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) may be able to help piece the puzzling death of accountant Julie Balbanida.

 

The policeman, who has a rank of Police Officer 1, was the first to arrive at Uni Eco Steel office on Valeria extension street, Iloilo City proper where Balbanida worked and found dead last February 4.

 

Investigation by the ICPO and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showed Uni Eco employee Albert “Ike” Panganiban fetched the police officer after Balbanida’s employer Raymond Coo discovered the altered Banco de Oro check worth P60,000 he entrusted to the lady accountant.

 

Information from sources privy to the investigation said Coo asked the police officer to help retrieved some items from Balbanida’s cellphone accessories stall inside a mall to pay for the P60,000 she allegedly embezzled from the company.

 

Initial police investigation said Balbanida committed suicide inside Uni Eco’s comfort room after Coo discovered that she altered and encashed a check meant to pay one of their suppliers.

 

But autopsy and paraffin test findings said Balbanida’s death was inconsistent with most suicide cases.

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City Police Station 1 chief, said the police officer already submitted his sworn statement regarding the incident but he refused to divulge its contents for the meantime.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office-6 director, said he directed the ICPO to investigate the policeman and find out if he was involved in the tampering of evidence in Balbanida’s case.

 

Paul Albert Jabian, marketing officer of Banco de Oro-Valeria who referred the altered check to Coo, said he last saw Balbanida alive around 11am of February 4.

 

When he returned to Uni Eco 2:30pm to 3pm of the same day, Jabian said he saw Balbanida talking to Coo and his father Teofilo Coo.

 

Raymond Coo later left and went to his lawyer and the ICPO. He returned with Panganiban and the police officer around 5pm when the bloodied Balbanida was found inside the CR.

 

The NBI yesterday conducted a reenactment of the alleged suicide at Uni Eco office.

 

Using a dummy bullet, NBI agents showed that gunfire can be heard from inside the CR contrary to the claims of employees that they did not hear any explosion. 

 

The investigators also inspected other parts of the office, particularly the second floor to gather evidence.

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