Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vigo murders, a solved case?

Is this really a solved case, as the police claimed?

PNP claims it “solved” Vigos’ murder
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

Local police declared recently that they have “solved” the recent killing of two part-time Kidapawan City-based journalists with the filing of a criminal complaint before the city prosecutor’s office against three alleged communist party members last 23 June.

Three days after the killing of George and Maricel Vigo – two human rights advocates who also worked as part-time journalists – Regional police chief German Doria announced that the Sparrow Unit of the communist group New People’s Army (NPA) was behind the Vigo killings. Doria identified one of the three suspects as Dionisio Madanggit, allegedly a member of the Sparrow Unit of NPA Front 51.

North Cotabato deputy provincial police chief Jose Calimutan, who headed Task Force Vigo, reiterated last 18 July that the police have done their part. “It’s now in the hands of the prosecution,” he said, as quoted by online news agency Mindanews.

The Vigo couple was riding on their motorcycle on their way home when shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen at a local subdivision at around 5 p.m. last 19 June.

A day after the murder took place, the police formed Task Force Vigo, composed of the Police Regional Office (PRO 12), the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Co-founders of the Federation of Reporters for Equality and Empowerment (FREE), the two continued to do part-time media work until their death -- George hosted the Tingog sa Kabatan-unan (Voice of the Youth), a 30-minute radio program of the CFSI aired every Monday noon, while Maricel hosted the Kalihukan sa Kongreso (Congress Affairs) of Rep. Talino over DXND every Sunday noon.

Doria said George was suspected by the NPA of having tipped off government forces on the whereabouts of Renante Edisa, 32, alias Commander Benjie, believed to be the head of the group’s Front 51, on November 21, 2004. Edisa was killed in a military raid days later.

Citing records from the Philippine National Police, Doria said Madanggit was also responsible for the series of killings in North Cotabato, including the killing in March 2005 of a military officer of the 39th Infantry Battalion, believed to be the triggerman of Commander Benjie.

“The suspect, now the subject of the manhunt of the authorities, was also behind the killing of Magpet town councilor Gerry Lingaro, a known anti-communist advocate last December 2005, and one Engineer Villahermosa, a businessman from Makilala town who allegedly refused to pay
revolutionary taxes to the NPA,” Doria said.

The family however, believes that the police have not sufficiently completed its investigation of the case.

“I know, in my heart, the authorities have not talked to the real witnesses. There are still witnesses now hiding because of fear. These are the persons who might give them clues, but are not yet that strong to come up in the open,” Maricel’s younger sister Maribel said. – based on reports by MindaNews

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