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Greenbelt heist suspects  planned to sell loot in WV 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

POLICE officers in Western Visayas are on their toes for the remaining members of the Alvin Flores gang who robbed a watch shop inside a posh shopping mall in Makati City last October 18.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said they continue to monitor and verify information that members of the robbery gang might seek refuge in the region.

Cuevas said they will make sure that none of the suspected robbers will lie low in any part of Western Visayas following the death of their leader, Alvin Flores, in Cebu last week.

Four gang members, including Flores, were killed in a shootout with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Sitio Lutao Marikina, Brgy. Estaca, Compostela Thursday night.

Aside from Flores, Ritchie Gigante Hijapon, Mark Alejandro Bondoc Salamanca, and Roger Sanchez also died in the gun battle.

The Alvin Flores gang is being tagged in the October 18 Greenbelt 5 robbery in Makati City. The suspects carted away an estimated P8 million worth of Rolex watches.

One of the gang members was killed in a shootout with the bodyguards of Taguig Mayor Sigfredo “Freddie” Tinga.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, an NBI agent who joined in the operation against Flores’ group, claimed that the robbery gang planned to sell their loot in the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.

The NBI in Cebu said six members are still roaming the province or other areas of the region.

Medardo de Lemos, NBI director in Central Visayas, said of the 11 suspects who staged the heist in Rolex store in Makati, five have either been killed or arrested.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

LOCAL government units (LGUs) in Panay and the rest of Western Visayas should be wary of persons posing as fixers of projects funded by the national government.

 

Dr. Raul Banias, presidential adviser for Western Visayas, issued the warning after learning that a group from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrived in Iloilo to verify the signatures of municipal mayors affixed in projects funded by national agencies.

 

Banias cited the case of Mayor Elvira Alarcon of Batad, Iloilo whose signature was forged in a set of documents for the release of financial assistance from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

 

“I was able to talk to the husband of Mayor Alarcon, former mayor Pedro Alarcon, who confirmed that NBI agents verified her signature on the documents. They said it was not her signature,” Banias said.

 

Banias said PAGCOR chair Efren Genuino did not discuss any financial assistance to LGUs when the latter arrived in Iloilo City Saturday for the launching of BIDA and Sagip Musmos projects.

 

Earlier reports said the NBI visited 9 to 15 municipal mayors in Western Visayas to verify their signatures in the documents of some government projects.

 

The NBI is following the tracks of a lawyer who posed as a representative of Malacañang to solicit the signatures of mayor for project requests.

 

The alleged lawyer reportedly promised to process the request with Malacañang in behalf of the LGUs.

 

Banias warned local chief executives not to fall for fixers or persons claiming to be emissaries of the national government.

 

“They (LGUs) should not entertain anybody who is not authorized by any government agency or entity to process any project or assistance. They could be fixers who want to use them to earn money,” Banias said.

 

Banias, who is a former mayor of Concepcion, finds it unusual that a person will fix government projects in behalf of LGUs.

 

“I did not encounter such thing when I was mayor,” Banias said. 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has completed the polygraph test on the witness and suspects in the James Ardaña kidnapping case in Sibalom, Antique.

 

Two NBI agents from Metro Manila arrived in Antique last week to conduct the lie-detector test on Ardaña’s brother June who tagged a certain Dionisio Fajarito as one of the alleged kidnappers.

 

The NBI also investigated and tested former village chiefs Aniceto del Soccoro of Brgy. Villa Hermosa, Sibalom and Edmond Tomas of Pasung, Sibalom.

 

The names of the two former punong barangays surfaced in the investigation because they were identified with Fajarito who is now in the custody of the NBI Western Visayas office in Iloilo City.

 

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo, Del Soccoro and Tomas denied kidnapping Ardaña at Brgy. Udyong, Sibalom in the evening of April 9.

 

Del Soccoro and Tomas said they were in their respective homes when the alleged kidnapping happened.

 

While polygraph tests are not conclusive and admissible in the courts, NBI investigators said the results will guide them in the ongoing probe.

 

Latest reports from Antique said Ardaña was spotted in a poultry farm but it was unconfirmed.

 

The NBI vowed to solve the case within this week. The Antique Provincial Police Office is also tracing the cellphone number used by the alleged kidnappers to call Ardaña’s family.

 

Antique police director Ren Darroca said Ardaña is still in Antique.  

 

Three leads are being in considered in Ardaña’s kidnapping – kidnapping for ransom, kidnap me because of a rape case filed against him and business rivalry.

justice-for-julife1

 

‘EXHAUSTIVE PROBE’ (From left) NBI agents Mark Blancaflor, Aries Bañares, administrative officer Ernesto Lim, NBI regional director Mario Sison and agent John Katipunan discuss the case they filed against the suspects in the Julife Balbanida murder case. (Inset) Fe Balbanida holds the photo of her late daughter. (Photos by Tara Yap)

‘EXHAUSTIVE PROBE’ (From left) NBI agents Mark Blancaflor, Aries Bañares, administrative officer Ernesto Lim, NBI regional director Mario Sison and agent John Katipunan discuss the case they filed against the suspects in the Julife Balbanida murder case. (Inset) Fe Balbanida holds the photo of her late daughter. (Photos by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE employers and co-worker of Julife Balbanida connived to murder the lady accountant inside Uni-Eco Steel Industries, Inc. on Valeria Street, Iloilo City last February 4.

 

This was the finding of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which became the basis for the filing of murder charges against Teofilo Ko, Uni-Eco owner; his son Raymond Ko, Uni Eco manager; and Uni-Eco employee Albert “Ike” Panganiban.

 

The NBI filed the case with the Iloilo City Prosecutors Office at the Hall of Justice past 11am Friday. It was supposed to be filed Thursday but the investigators who were supposed to sign the case file were dispatched to Antique to investigate the James Ardaña kidnapping case.

 

The NBI team that investigated the incident are special investigator (SI) John Katipunan, special agent (SA) Ernesto Lim, agent Arnold Diaz, SA Jeremiah Sargado, SI Rojun Hosillos and SI Modesto Orestes Cajita.

 

Atty. Mario Sison, NBI regional director, said they conducted an “exhaustive investigation” on the mysterious death of Balbanida, who was found inside the Uni-Eco comfort room with a bullet wound in her head.

 

Sison said their conclusions were based on circumstantial evidence and findings of the Iloilo City Police Station 1 and PNP Crime Laboratory.

 

Based on the final NBI investigation report, Balbanida’s death was not a case of suicide as claimed by her employers.

 

Lim said Balbanida was killed after the Kos discovered the tampered check worth P60,000 which they entrusted to the victim being the accountant and trusted employee.

 

The altered check surfaced after bank employee Paul Albert Javian brought it to Uni-Eco to verify Teofilo Ko’s signature.

 

The Kos wondered why the check was marked “paid to cash” instead of indicating the name of the payee.

 

“The situation worsened when the employers alleged that they discovered more tampered checks after conducting their own investigation. The killing emanated from the discovery of dishonesty, deceit and fraud allegedly committed by the victim when she was entrusted huge amounts of money. Another reason is the alleged abuse of confidence by the victim who virtually ran the finances of the company. When they discovered the anomaly, they erupted. These are the crystal clear motives of the respondents,” Lim said.

 

While they cannot determine who shot Balbanida, the NBI said the Kos and Panganiban were the only persons with the victim before she was found dead inside the CR.

 

“Panganiban is not part of management and he claimed that it was day off when the incident happened. But he was there after he was summoned by his employers. Why was he there when he had nothing to do with money matters? He is too obedient,” Lim said.

 

The NBI also noted that the lack of blood splatters on the CR’s wall is inconsistent with the purported suicide case.

 

“If indeed the victim committed suicide using a handgun while standing or in sitting position, why are there no blood stains on the wall? We have to consider that the bullet entered her right temple and exited in the left portion of her head,” Lim said.

 

The six empty bullet shells recovered inside the CR and the position of Balbanida’s body blocking the door also cast doubts on the suicide angle, the NBI report said.

 

“The door could not be opened without changing the position of the cadaver because it blocks the door. One has to move the body in order to open the CR,” the investigation said.

 

The remains of the victim also showed signs of struggle because her hair was in disarray.

 

“This finding is further substantiated by the discovery and retrieval of slug found in the floor where her head lies. The victim may have been shot while her head was pressed down on the floor by her attackers. And no one will commit suicide while lying inside a comfort room. This is contrary to wisdom and common sense,” it added.

 

The victim’s mother, Fe Balbanida, said she was thankful to the NBI for thoroughly investigating her daughter’s death.

 

“The findings confirmed our suspicions that she was killed. The three (respondent) are my suspects,” Fe said.

 

Fe said she hopes that they will achieve justice now that the murder case has been filed.

 

By Albert T. Mamora and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THERE seems to be no end in the twists and turns in the kidnapping of a businessman in Antique.

 

Investigators are now leaning towards the angle of business rivalry as the motive for the abduction of businessman James Ardaña in Sibalom, Antique Holy Thursday last week.

 

This, after the Antique Provincial Police Office (APPO) “arrested” one of the suspects who faked a motorcycle accident and forcibly took Ardaña at Crossing Aldea in Brgy. Udyong, Sibalom.

 

Ardaña’s borther June positively identified a certain Dionisio Pajarito of Brgy. Nagdayaw, Sibalom as one of the alleged kidnappers.

 

June said Pajarito posed as the injured person in the fake motorcycle accident.

 

The police did not file charges against Pajarito, whom they later freed, for they still need more evidence.

 

But the National Bureau of Investigation took custody of Pajarito and brought him to Iloilo City.

 

Pajarito is believed to be a right-hand man of a businessman who is also in Antique politics.

 

Pajarito’s patron is believed to be a former business partner of Ardaña before they had a falling out which spawned a bitter rivalry.

 

Antique police director Ren Darroca said they invited the former business partner of Ardaña for questioning but the latter referred the investigators to his lawyer.

 

Police officials in Camp Delgado said this business rivalry could be the motive for Ardaña’s kidnapping.

 

The mastermind may have also used the rape case filed against Ardaña in order to cover their tracks, PRO-6 officials said.

 

Another angle being considered by the police is “kidnap me” so that Ardaña will evade the pending warrant of arrest against him.

 

Antique Governor Salvacio Perez said over Bombo Radyo-Iloilo that Ardaña’s kidnapping is an isolated case.

 

“Based on the investigation of the Antique provincial police, the most likely motive in the case is business rivalry. This is a work of amateurs and it is possible that the suspects are from Antique,” Perez said.

 

The police, with help from the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Anti-Crime Emergency Response, released the cartographic sketch of the suspects based on June Ardaña’s descriptions.

 

The whereabouts and condition of Ardaña remains unknown as the kidnappers have not called his wife Gloria to discuss any demand.

 

The kidnappers earlier demanded a P15-million ransom for the safe release of Ardaña.

 

As regards the report that a businessman engaged in construction and hardware trading is the original target of a kidnap-for-ransom group, the Antique police said this information first surfaced in January 2009.

 

APPO sources said a group of Hiligaynon speaking men was monitored in Antique but they later left.

NBI to file case vs 4 Balbanida suspects today

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will file today criminal cases against four persons who allegedly had a hand in the death of accountant Julife Balbanida last February 4.

 

Based on initial information from NBI administrative officer Ernesto Lim, three civilians will be charged with murder and perjury. A police officer will face administrative raps for alleged tampering of evidence.

 

The cases will be filed with the Iloilo City Prosecutors Office sometime today, Lim said in an interview with Aksyon Radyo’s Johnny Diaz.

 

Balbanida was found dead inside the comfort room of her workplace, Uni Eco Steel Inc. along Valeria Street, Iloilo City. A caliber .45 pistol and six empty bullet casings were found inside the CR.

 

But Balbanida and her co-workers tested negative for gunpowder burns, according to the PNP Crime Laboratory.

 

Lim said the filing of the cases was delayed because NBI investigators were dispatched to Aklan and Antique to probe the James Ardaña kidnapping case.

 

“We were supposed to file the case today (Wednesday) but we were delayed because we had to photocopy the affidavits and wait for the investigators who will sign the documents,” Lim said.

 

The investigating team is led by supervising agent Jeremaiah Sargado and special investigator John Catipunan.

 

Lim said they found several discrepancies in the claim that Balbanida committed suicide.

 

“There were no blood splatters on the wall. The recovery of six empty shells of caliber .45 ammunitions inside the CR is also unlikely in a suicide incident. If it was a suicide case, how come there were two slugs recovered from the crime scene?” Lim said.

 

Lim presented two possible scenarios on what happened to Balbanida after her employer Raymund Coo confronted her about a tampered check for P60,000.

 

“Maybe two persons held her hands and another shot her head. Or she was pulled by her hair, pinned to the floor and shot,” Lim added.  

 

Balbanida’s position inside the CR does not jive with the statement of Uni Eco employee Ike Panganiban that he kicked the door open when the lady accountant did not answer his knocks.

 

“Her head was blocking the CR door which can be opened from the outside by pulling the door knob,” Lim said.

 

Lim refused to provide the names of the respondents until they have filed the cases.

By Albert T. Mamora and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MORE questions are being asked about the Ardaña kidnapping in Antique. Here is the latest: Was Antique merchant James Ardaña the target of a kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) group or was just mistaken for another businessman in Antique?

 

Earlier reports speculated that Ardaña made himself disappear to avoid a rape case.

 

Intelligence community sources claimed Ardaña was not the real target of alleged KFR members but another prominent person in Antique.

 

The sources, who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the subject, said Ardaña’s name did not surface in the intelligence reports they received about a KFR group that will strike during Holy Week.     

 

The real target was a trader of motor engines and a favored contractor of an Antique politician, the sources said.

 

The Daily Guardian tried to verify the report with the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) and the Antique Provincial Police Office (APPO) but a news blackout has been imposed on the Ardaña kidnapping case.

 

The blackout was enforced following reports that a team from the Presidential Anti-Crime Emergency Response (Pacer) arrived in Antique province Wednesday.

 

The Pacer members joined the investigation initiated by Task Force Ardaña composed of the PRO-6 and APPO.

 

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also conducting a separate investigation on the incident.

 

Latest information from the capital town of San Jose said the Pacer and the PNP have invited an unidentified person for investigation. Whether he is considered a suspect or a witness is not clear because the APPO refused to give details.

 

PRO-6 director Isagani Cuevas did not respond to requests for an interview because he was in the middle of a staff conference in Camp Delgado yesterday.

 

Cuevas has ordered TF Ardaña to dig deeper into the case. Sr/Supt. Artemio Hicban, PRO-6 deputy director for administration, and Supt. Cornelio Defensor, Regional Intelligence Division chief, are leading the task force.

 

APPO director Ren Darroca earlier quoted Ardaña’s wife as saying that the kidnappers demanded P15 million for his release.

 

Darroca said the incident could also be related to the rape case filed against Ardaña by their former house help.

 

Three angles are being entertained in the case of Ardaña: abduction and revenge, kidnap for ransom or “kidnap me.”

 

Ardaña engages in transportation business and a distributor of farm inputs in northern Antique.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE father of a man accused of posing as a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent inside a night spot in Iloilo City April 7 denied allegations against him.

 

Antonio Altas Jr., father of Andrew Altas of Brgy. Malipayon, Iloilo City Proper, said his son did not pose as NBI agent nor shoot Sigfred June Emano of DB Ledesma, Jaro inside Red Paprika Restaurant at Boardwalk Leisure Park in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

The incident happened around 11:30pm of April 7, based on Mandurriao police blotters.

 

Antonio said Andrew, who is the brother-in-law of Paprika owner Melvin Odicta, was just sitting when someone told him that members of the bukas kotse gang were in the restaurant.

 

Andrew then asked a certain Paoc of Tanza Cementerio, Molo if he knew the alleged bukas kotse members.

 

“Paoc reacted by drawing his gun and slammed it on Andrew’s table. The gun went off but Emano only learned that he was hit when he went home. It was Paoc’s gun that hit him. My son did not shoot Emano,” said Antonio who is a retired police officer.

 

Antonio also showed the statement of the security guard on duty during the Paprika incident saying that Andrew did not pose as an NBI agent nor shoot Emano.

 

He also showed the blotter report filed by Emano which did not mention the name of Andrew as the gunman.

 

Antonio said they were hurt by radio reports tagging his son as an NBI agent.

 

“My son plays drums at Paprika aside from securing the place. He is no NBI agent,” Antonio said.

 

NBI regional director Mario Sison said Andrew Altas is not in their roster of agents.

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.

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

 

POLICE arrested Friday afternoon a suspect in the shooting to death of Honda Cars-Iloilo service manager Rustico Vega last January 9.

 

Combined forces of the National Bureau of Investigation, Mandurriao PNP, Iloilo City Mobile Group and Pototan PNP arrested Rodolfo “Liit” Reconquista, 50, of Pototan, Iloilo on the strength of a “pickup subpoena.”

 

Police brought Reconquista to the police station for questioning and identification by the witnesses.

 

An unidentified witness positively identified Reconquista as the person sitting behind the driver of the motorcycle used in Vega’s shooting.

 

The witness said Reconquista was wearing a black jacket and helmet and held a gun.

 

He claimed seeing the suspect’s face when the latter removed his helmet after Vega was shot in front of their office along Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

Reconquista, who is reportedly involved in criminal activities in the 3rd district, is detained at the Mandurriao police station.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office OIC-director, earlier said a witness came up with a facial sketch of the shooter of Vega.

 

Vega had just alighted from a passenger jeep when he was shot by two motorcycle-riding suspects in front of their office around 8am of January 9. Vega died at the Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital an hour later.

 

WORK RELATED

 

Espejo said they are training their sights on Vega’s work as the reason for his death.

 

The ICPO chief earlier said they were looking into the altercation between Vega and the owner of a black Honda CRV involved in a hit-and-run incident in Banate, Iloilo October 24, 2008.

 

Based on the investigation report cobbled by the police, the owner tried to have his car fixed at Honda-Iloilo ahead of other vehicles but Vega insisted on their “first come, first serve” policy.

 

An altercation erupted with the owner allegedly threatening Vega.

 

On October 27, 2008, members of the Banate police went to Honda Cars to inquire if a black Honda car was brought for repair which Vega confirmed.

 

The victim narrated the altercation between him and the owner of the CRV which was then reflected in the Banate police blotters.

 

The hit-and-run case in Banate was settled out of court.

 

On December 19, 2008, a woman went to the house of Vega and discussed with the victim her plans to buy a Honda car. But the victim suggested that she inquire with their office about sales concerns.

 

In the evening of the same date, the woman sent text messages to Vega inviting him out

to dinner which the latter refused. Later, the same woman asked him to meet her at Buhang Bridge in Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

On December 20, Vega received a text message from the same woman inviting him to chat and drinks at Smallville complex in Mandurriao.

 

The victim left their office Christmas party and confronted the woman why she was

acting that way. The woman said she happened to like Vega reason why she kept on inviting him out.

 

Vega revealed the woman’s “advances” to his wife who later narrated everything to investigators after the victim was killed.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are more than willing to help Iloilo City’s sole power distributor run after power pilferers.

But there’s a caveat: heads must roll and charges must be filed against these thieves.

Engr. Randy Pastolero of Panay Electric Co. (Peco) said they sought the help of the PNP and the NBI in securing their personnel involved in apprehending power thieves.

Pastolero said they aim to lower their systems loss, which is pegged at 9 percent, by clamping down on residents who tap illegally to Peco lines.

Atty. Mario Sison, NBI regional director, said they are willing to help Peco’s campaign against pilferers “provided they file cases against erring persons.”

Sison said Peco must sue power thieves instead of just collecting arrears and fines.

“We might bear the brunt of things if no charges are filed against those caught stealing electricity from Peco,” Sison said.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PNP regional director, said they are willing to provide security personnel to Peco during their operations.

Cuevas said a patrol-load of police personnel will escort Peco people if they apprehend pilferers in Iloilo City.

Pastolero said they are set to apprehend several personalities, including an unidentified government official, suspected of stealing electricity from the distribution firm.

Neighbors carry the wounded Adelina Palma-Bermejo to the Jaro police car. (Photo courtesy of Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo)

Neighbors carry the wounded Adelina Palma-Bermejo to the Jaro police car. (Photo courtesy of Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo)

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AN aunt of Ilongga Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was stabbed to death shortly before noon Thursday.

 

Adelina Palma-Bermejo, 74, of Kahirup Subdivision, Brgy. Cubay, Jaro, Iloilo City died at the West Visayas State University Medical Center despite attempts by doctors to save her life. Initial findings of the Jaro police station show the victim suffered four stab wounds in her body.

 

 

Rosalina Palma-Cinco, a sister of Bermejo, found the victim bathed in her own blood with a 12-inch stainless steel knife still sticking in her back.

Cinco, who lived three houses away from the victim, said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo she was supposed to bring lunch to the victim when she discovered the crime.

 

Responding Jaro police officers and neighbors of the victim rushed her to the hospital onboard the police patrol.

 

According to witness Eddie Peñaflor, who is now in police custody, said a man asked him around 11 am if Bermejo was inside her home because he wants to apply as driver. But Peñaflor told the man that Bermejo’s car is under repair.

 

Still, knocked on Bermejo’s gate. When the victim asked for the visitor’s name, the man answered “Robert.”

 

Peñaflor then heard Bermejo invite “Robert” inside her house.

 

A brother of Bermejo, who asked not to be identified, said they saw bloodstains in the second and ground floors of the house. The victim’s room was also in disarray indicating that the suspect may have robbed some valuables.

 

“She once hired a driver named Robert. Maybe the motive is robbery because her room was ransacked,” the brother said.

 

The brother said Bermejo lives alone in her two-storey house although they have been warning her to be careful and not to be complacent with strangers.

Bermejo and Senator Santiago’s mother are sisters.

 

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday went to the home of a suspect but he was nowhere to be found.

 

According to NBI sources, the suspect once worked for Bermejo but left after one week. The suspect is a resident of central Iloilo, the sources added.

 

Senior Insp. Harry Decena, Jaro police chief, said Bermejo once sought their help after an unspecified spat with her former househelp.

 

“That problem was resolved later but we assured that we will check on her from time to time,” Decena said.

 

Bermejo’s murder is the latest in the series of killings happening in Iloilo City the past months.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TOP Ilonggo officials challenged the Iloilo City Police Office to solve the rash of killings in the city even as they assured that the metropolis remains peaceful and orderly.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he is concerned with the recent spate of murder cases in the city the past weeks.

 

The latest incident is the assassination of Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo who was gunned down in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday last week.

 

Del Castillo was walking home in Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo when two motorcycle-riding suspects shot him to death.

 

Prior to del Castillo’s killing, American national Daniel John Chabra was stabbed to death inside his apartment also in Arevalo.

 

Eddie Pedrajas, believed to be a relative of a suspected drug lord in the city, was also gunned down in Jaro district more than a week ago.

 

Gonzalez said he has directed Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, to heighten their operations and resolve the three incidents.

 

“I want results when I come back next Saturday. I will not allow the peace and quiet of the city to be disturbed,” Gonzalez said.

 

The justice department said he will also discuss the peace and order situation in the city with Police Regional Office-6 director Isagani Cuevas.

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the metropolis is still peaceful and orderly despite the gruesome killings.

 

Treñas said it is up to Tobias to do his best to solve the cases.

DEL CASTILLO CASE

Meanwhile, the Arevalo police continues to deepen their investigation on the del Castillo slay case.

Chief Inspector Federico Silvestre, Arevalo police chief, said one of the angles they are following is del Castillo’s spat with his colleagues at the Bureau of Fire Prevention.

 

Silvestre said the del Castillo’s wife revealed some information to them relative to the intra-office dispute involving the slain fire official.

 

The Arevalo police have profiled del Castillo’s shooter based on eyewitness accounts. The suspect is believed to be a former security guard and a native of Maasin, Iloilo who has standing warrants of arrest of various criminal charges.

 

But Silvestre said they are continue to establish the identity and involvement of the suspect in the slay case “because this is a heinous crime and we want to make sure of our case.”

 

“If we make a mistake, it would be hard for us to start from square one,” he added.

 

Secretary Gonzalez said he also received information on the squabble between del Castillo and other BFP officials.

 

Gonzalez said issues of corruption, personal grudge and professional rivalry may have something to do with del Castillo’s death.

“I already gave the lead to Cuevas, Tobias and the National Bureau of Investigation. It is up to them to develop their case,” Gonzalez added. 

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