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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bicol's top cop wants reopening of 'cold' cases

Funeral of Laesybil Almonacid in Albay
Funeral of Laesybil Almonacid in Albay
Photo via Justice for Laesybil
LEGAZPI CITY—The head of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office has ordered the reopening of at least four cold cases that involve the killings of two Bicol University (BU) students and two broadcast reporters in Camarines Sur.

Police Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez Jr., Bicol police regional director, on Saturday told the Philippines News Agency that he had directed Police Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) regional chief, to reopen the unsolved killings of BU student leader Cris Hugo, another BU student Laesybil Almonacid and broadcast journalists Ronaldo Anjo Julia and Romeo Olea.

Hugo, a BU journalism student, was gunned down in March 2006 by unidentified gunman while he was walking in front of the Bagumbayan Elementary School in Barangay 8 in this city.

The BU student leader, 20, was reportedly the regional coordinator and national council member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and the Grand Chancellor of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity BU chapter.

Almonacid, a BU third year Accountancy student, was found dead and half-naked in a grassy area, a few meters from their house in Barangay (village) Bascaran, Daraga town.

Julia was gunned down by unknown gunman while walking along the street in Magarao town in Camarines Sur in August 2008.

Meanwhile, Olea was shot dead in June 2011 in Iriga City by a motorcycle riding gunman while he was also on board his motorcycle on his way to work at the dwEB-FM in Nabua, Camarines Sur.

The reopening of the cases was prompted by queries from media amid reports that authorities are still facing a blank wall in identifying the suspects and gathering pieces of evidence and testimonies from witnesses.

Marquez committed to personally oversee the resolution of the murder cases earlier considered as “cold cases.”

He explained that cold cases refer to pending criminal cases that were not resolved in a span of six months due to the failure of police investigators to track down suspects and gather testimonies of witnesses and hard evidence to pin down the suspects.

Asked if there is a given timeline for these cases, Marquez said they can not give a timeline as the cases to be reopened need to be re-investigated thoroughly.

He said the reopening of these cases will form part of the regular agenda during Special Investigation Task Group's weekly conference where we will ask updates from investigators handling the cases.

Earlier, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III slammed the PNP "for its failure to resolve the killing of student activist Cris Hugo nine years ago in this city."

Pimentel asked the PNP why the alleged killers of Hugo and his conspirators -- who, reports said, belong to a rightist group in the military -- have remained at large.

In an emailed statement, Pimentel said that unless justice is done, killing students and other political activists in the country would be like an albatross that would weigh down the positive achievements of the present administration.

He added that he will maintain a database in his office of all unsolved killings and “move to make the crime of murder imprescriptible so that killers can be brought to justice anytime a killing is solved by the police.”

The lawmaker has appealed to the police to intensify their drive to arrest the killers of activists, who reports have identified as members of paramilitary or vigilante groups. (PNA) 
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