Seven suspects, including a former executive of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), have been charged with murder in connection with the killing of the hospital’s late chief, Dr. Roland Cortez, last month.
The Quezon City Police District alleged today that the killing of Cortez and his driver Ernesto Ponce dela Cruz was masterminded by former NCMH administrator Clarita Avila. The authorities said that Avila committed the crime to retaliate against Cortez, who filed a graft and malversation charge against her at the Office of the Ombudsman in July 2019.
Avila became controversial in April when she divulged that NCMH workers and patients were getting infected with the coronavirus due to the lack of protective gear. Cortez ordered Avila to shush then transferred her to the Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Las Piñas City. Cortez told the Philippine Star before his death that Avila was reassigned not because of her exposé but for her poor performance and inability to get along with her colleagues at the NCMH.
In addition, six other suspects were also charged: Sonny Sandicho, Maria Cristina Riego Dela Cruz, Roman “Albert” Eugenio, and Edieson Riego; and NCMH employees George Serrano and Harly Pagarigan.
Eugenio helped the police track down the other suspects, and supposedly showed them the getaway car used during the killing. Pagarigan was allegedly the gunman. The police alleged that Serrano, Pagarigan, and Sandicho were seen speaking with Avila by witnesses before Cortez was gunned down.
Cortez and dela Cruz were shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen on Tandang Sora Avenue, Quezon City. The authorities said that his case is now considered closed.
This article, 7 suspects charged with murder of National Center for Mental Health chief in Quezon City, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!