Friday, April 10, 2015

Bicol police chief orders reopening of 'cold cases' of unsolved killings
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, April 9 (PNA) -- Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Philippine National Police Bicol regional director, on Thursday said in a phone interview that he had directed the Regional Police Investigation Unit to reopen and continue its investigation of student activist Cris Hugo's case and several others which he described as “cold cases.”

Deona was reacting to the accusation of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III that the PNP failed to resolve the killing of Hugo nine years ago in this city.

Pimentel, in an emailed statement sent Wednesday, asked the PNP why the alleged killers of Hugo and their conspirators, who, reports said, belonged to a right’s group in the military, have still remained at large.

Hugo, a journalism student of the Bicol University (BU), was gunned down in March 2006 while walking alone in front of the Bagumbayan Elementary School in Barangay 8 this city.

The then 20-year-old BU student was reportedly the regional coordinator and national council member of the League of Filipino Students and the Grand Chancellor of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity-BU chapter.

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

He said the savage killing of Hugo was done during the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

At the height of the extrajudicial killings launched nationwide against activists during Arroyo’s term, several militants were killed in a two-year period.

Pimentel added that he would 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, whom reports have identified as members of paramilitary or vigilante groups.

Deona said he had already directed Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada, PNP regional investigation chief, to closely coordinate with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Deona said the Pimentel press statement was very timely, saying further that “we have just finished meeting with my investigation chief and the CIDG for the inventory, revival and opening of the cold cases.”

He said that among cases to be re-investigated are the killings of Hugo and one Almonasid, both BU students, and Romeo Olea, a mediaman from Iriga City.

Asked if there was a given timeline for these cases, Deona said they could not give one as these cases to be reopened need to be re-investigated thoroughly.

“We have allocated enough funds for the reopening of these cases,” he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS