Many high-profile murders this year ‘remain unsolved’

POLICE in Cebu have not been able to solve many of the high-profile murders that took place in 2019.

One of these is the case of Capt. Delfin Bontuyan, who was gunned down by men riding in tandem on Pope John Paul II Ave. in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City last May 21.

According to Maj. Dindo Alaras, chief of the Mabolo Police Station, the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) is still looking into Bontuyan’s death.

However, up to now, he said they still don’t have any suspects since they weren’t able to find any witnesses willing to shed light on the incident. Also, the two perpetrators were wearing full-face helmets.

Alaras said his station and the SITG continue to coordinate with other government agencies to look into Bontuyan’s police record that might point them to the motive or the identities of his killers.

Alaras assured that they will not stop to seek justice for their colleague’s death.

“With regards to suspects, we cannot specify any. However, we are reviewing personalities who were involved in cases that Bontuyan handled. Maybe one of them is a potential suspect. It is the nature of police work. He might have dealt with somebody who harbored a grudge against him or might be responsible for his death,” the police official said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Bontuyan’s only daughter, Christine Claire, the Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson of Barangay Talamban, Cebu City, lamented the delay in the investigation on her father’s murder.

She said the fatal shooting of her father was an insult to the organization.

“When an active policeman is shot a few meters away from a police station and in broad daylight to top it all off, that should be construed as a big slap to the Philippine National Police. Why? Because it means whoever pulled the trigger was not afraid of the police,” she said.

In fact, Christine Claire said, it took investigators more than one month to return her father’s cellular phone.

As for the case of Fiscal Mary Ann Castro, who was killed in an ambush on Jan. 17, the CCPO considered it closed after a suspect was identified.

Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) Director Col. Roderick Mariano also considered as solved the ambush on San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya in Talisay City last Jan. 22, which killed her husband Ricardo “Nonoy” Reluya Jr. and their two companions.

Mariano said they already filed a case against Jerome Labitad, their prime suspect and a known drug personality in Talisay City.

However, Mariano admitted that they were having a hard time making inroads on the death of Medellin Councilor Ricardo Ramirez, which happened during the time of his predecessor, Col. Manuel Abrugena.

Armed men wearing black bonnets, bulletproof vests and high-powered firearms with silencers stormed with quick precision a private hospital in the town where the former mayor was confined before midnight of June 18 and shot him.

“We’ve been looking at his case, but we really don’t have any suspects. We couldn’t identify his attackers since their faces were covered,” Mariano said in Tagalog.

The Police Regional Office Central Visayas has ordered a review on other high-profile cases so these can finally be solved.

Col. Engelbert Sorinao, officer-in-charge of the CCPO, will meet with 11 police station chiefs to ask about the progress of cases in their respective jurisdictions, one of which was the murder Lt. Col. Joie Yape Jr., former head of the Provincial Intelligence Branch.

Yape was walking with his wife along Molave St. in Barangay Kamputhaw when two men on a motorcycle, who were both wearing helmets, shot and killed him last Nov. 21.

Soriano said the SITG assigned to the case already has persons of interest, but it is not 100 percent sure they are the culprits.

As for the murder of Clarin, Misamis Occidental Mayor David Navarro, the police official said the National Bureau of Investigation is handling the case.

Navarro was shot dead last Oct. 25, a day after he was arrested mauling a massage parlor attendant in Cebu City. The mayor, who was on the narco list of President Rodrigo Duterte, was in a police vehicle going to the fiscal’s office to undergo inquest proceedings for the complaint filed by the massage parlor attendant when gunmen attacked around 2 p.m.

Soriano hopes they can file cases against suspects in high-profile murders next year. (AYB / PJB)