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2 more BFP officials in assassination plot

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TWO ranking officials of the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP-6) are also part of an assassination plot which had already claimed the life of Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo a week ago.

 

Sources from the BFP and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) said aside from del Castillo, two BFP officials are also targets of paid assassins.

 

The sources said the “wholesale” assassination plot could be an offshoot of the ongoing rift between BFP officials over allegations of graft and corruption.

 

When pressed for more details, the BFP personnel refused to reveal more information for fear of their lives.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. earlier said squabbles within the BFP could be one of the motives behind del Castillo’s assassination.

 

Gonzalez said he has received information from BFP personnel regarding the dispute between del Castillo and Chief Insp. Lester Gimotea.

 

The dispute has led to the filing of criminal and administrative suits between del Castillo and Gimotea.

ICPO director Bartolome Tobias confirmed the information saying they are looking into the information to preempt another killing. 

 

Senior Supt. Aloveel Ferrer was not available for comment.

 

Del Castillo will be buried today at Forest Lake Memorial park after a necrological service at St. Therese Funeral Chapel in Molo.

 

The Arevalo police have filed cases against three suspects involved in del Castillo’s assassination. The Arevalo police named the suspects as Michael Mediana of Brgy. Burac, Maasin and Nelson Sompio, a former Philippine Army soldier. The third suspect, Jerry Curtom, has surfaced to deny any involvement in the case.

 

Curtom said he was at Brgy. Ayong, Cabatuan, Iloilo when del Castillo was shot Friday last week at Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo district.

 

Curtom also denied knowing Mediana and Sompio.

 

“I can’t stomach killing another person and I don’t have any criminal record,” he added.

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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.

 

WHO IS ROBERT?

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.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MURDER charges will be filed this week against the alleged gunman of provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, said they are refining their case against the triggerman who is believed to be a resident of Iloilo province.

 

Tobias said eyewitnesses identified the suspect through his photographs.

 

The ICPO chief said they also provided security to the witnesses after receiving reports that they are being threatened.

 

“As a matter of procedure, we secure the witnesses to prevent the suspects from harming or influencing them. We will file the case as soon as possible,” Tobias said.

 

Tobias said they continue to check the background of the gunman, particularly his criminal records.

 

Del Castillo was walking towards their home in Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo district Friday afternoon when two motorcycle-riding suspects shot him with a caliber .45 pistol.

 

Tobias is still cautious to reveal the motive for del Castillo’s murder “but we are continuously liaising with the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the victim’s family.”

 

“There are a lot of angles and until the investigation is finished, we cannot speculate,” he added.

NOT YET ALARMING

Tobias also allayed fears of local leaders and the business community of the reported presence of hired killers in Iloilo City.

 

“I don’t think the situation is alarming but we advise our people to be vigilant against suspicious looking persons. Please report to us any unusual event or strange persons in your communities,” he added.

 

Intelligence operatives of the ICPO are now monitoring the reports and movements of alleged assassins in the city, Tobias said.

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