Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Suspects in 2 journalists’ slay fall

So, is this another "solved" case by the police? The police definition of a "solved" case has always been a problematic one for media groups.

Suspects in 2 journalists’ slay fall
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

The police recently presented one of two primary suspects in the 16 May killing of tabloid reporter Albert Orsolino.

Ramon Rivera, a Navotas jailguard on absence without official leave, was arrested by the police intelligence through a warrant of arrest issued by a Malabon City regional trial court, according to Northern Police District chief Leopoldo Bataoil.

A witness, who asked not to be identified, tipped off Rivera when he spotted the fugitive in Quezon City.

Records showed Rivera has a pending homicide case with five other jail guards over the mauling and clubbing to death of an inmate in December 2004 inside the Navotas municipal jail.

A witness to the Orsolino case pointed Rivera as one of the assailants positioned at the gas station, where the reporter was gunned down in the morning of 16 May.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Gen. Oscar Calderon announced last 07 August the arrest of the alleged hitman in the killing of a Orsolino’s cousin and photojournalist Prudencio Melendres in Malabon City last 31 July.

Roberto Lopez, a 36-year-old plumber and a resident of Caloocan City, was arrested by the NPD and Malabon City police based on information provided by witnesses in the killing.

“The murder of tabloid photographer Prudencio Melendres is the second case of high-profile murder that we were able to solve within the 10-week timetable given by President Arroyo,” Calderon said.

Melendres, a photojournalist working for Tanod and Dyaryo ng Bayan tabloids, was gunned by four unidentified men while on his way to work in Gozon Compound, Letre, Tonsuya Village, Malabon City early morning last 31 July.

According to Bataoil, Lopez was positively identified by several witnesses when he was presented in a police line-up.

Lopez is a cousin of a certain Antonio Lopez whose name reportedly appeared in a letter dated 14 June that Melendres gave to his wife for safe keeping prior to his death.

The letter addressed to Bataoil and Senior Supt. Moises Guevarra, Malabon City police station chief, was handed to the victim’s wife shortly after his cousin, a certain Norberto Orsolino, was laid to rest.

The letter allegedly indicated that there was a personal grudge between the Lopezes and the victim and that he was seeking police help.

Aside from the letter that gave the investigators a lead on the murder case, Bataoil said the series of dialogue that they conducted with the community where Melendres stayed also convinced witnesses to come out and cooperate with police authorities as part of their civic duty.

“The early solution of the Melendres case… manifests the keen resolve of the PNP not only to comply with the orders of the President but to serve the ends of justice to all victims of heinous crime, particularly working journalists and members of cause-oriented groups and party-list organizations,” Calderon said.

Earlier, Bataoil confirmed it was “highly probable” that the killings (Orsolino’s and Melendres’s) were related.

Relatives said that after Orsolino was killed, Melendres replaced him as president of Letre Urban People Homeowners’ Association. Both Orsolino and Melendres were also members of the CAMANAVA (Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela) Press Corps.

Melendres, had been helping residents in the area to acquire the land on which they had been considered previously been illegal settlers, reported the Inquirer News Service.

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