The Presidential Task Force on Media security (PTFOMs) has taken the lead in the investi-gation on the murder of local broadcaster ”Rex” Cornelio Pepino amidst tension between local investigators and the camp of Governor Roel Degamo.
Three agencies are now conducting parallel probes making things confusing., These are the Police, the NBI and the Governor’s office. Why is the governor’s office involving itself in the case?— netizens are asking.
Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, PTFOMs Executive Director said in an interview over Radyo Pilipinas that PTFOMs Chairman and Justice Secretary Menardo Guievarra has ordered the formation of a Special Investigation Team for New (SITN) cases on media security including Pepino’s death. The NBI is also tasked to coordinate with the Presidential Task force.
NBI agents say that they also received death threats when they joined in the investigation. They are now focusing on a common lead.
USEC Egco said Justice Sec. Guevarra has designated Dumaguete-based Prosecutor Leonardo Mandajoyan to lead the Special Investigation Task Network SITN Pepino.
Mandajoyan will lead the SITN composing the local police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Egco added.
“With the creation of the SITN, PTFOMS will provide an effective lead in the conduct of a thorough and impartial criminal investigation for the murder of Pepino,” USEC Egco said in a statement.
USEC Egco has seen the need for PTFOMS to intervene following the allegations against the Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) by Gov Degamo that he is being “implicated” in the killing of Pepino. Egco said CIDG Provincial chief Lt. Col. Ariel Huesca has denied the allegations.
Degamo’s name was dragged to the case because there has been no official findings in writing officially exonerating the role of the capitol-owned Vios car which was seen with the alleged killers on CCTV in the wake of the Pepino murder.
Also, the red-orange KIA was allegedly photographed by agents parked in Pamplona after the killing in the alleged house of one barangay official. Pamplona is the main political bailiwick of Degamo . CIDG hopes that Mayor Degamo of Pamplona can also help explain the veracity of this photograph by agents.
Fiscal Mandajoyan is expected to rule on the issue of the capitol’s car’s involvement whether true or not.
Egco said he has informed Police Regional Office – 7 Director Brig. Gen. Albert Ferro of the takeover to avoid conflicts and allay fears of “white washing by Negros Oriental local officials.”
PTFOMS has also directed the local police to “cease and desist its own investigation and fully cooperate and coordinate with the SITN Presidential Task Force.”
“Failure to cooperate with the Presidential Task Force or the SITN shall have dire consequences,” Egco’s statement reads.
In an open letter to Sec. Guevarra, Pepino’s Station Manager, Florence Baesa, thanked PTFOMS for taking over the investigation. “This progress has made us more confident that those responsible for the murder of Rex will be brought to justice and that the senseless killing of journalists in Dumaguete will come to an end,” the letter read.
Lt Col Huesca, Assistant head of the disbanded Special Investigation Task Group Pepino, led a search of the house of Police Executive Master Sergeant PEMS Reuel Pinero, a close-in police detail of the governor, on July 15, 2020.
The search was by virtue of a search warrant issued by Judge Leoncio Bancoro of Branch 41 of Dumaguete City Regional Trial Court, where it yielded 131 rounds of powerful 5.56 mm live ammunition and an analog cellular phone. CIDG wants which ever PNP mother unit to clear Pinero of such possession of powerful ammunition . Otherwise he will be charged with illegal possession of such, the CIDG said.
Degamo has also opened his three houses in Pamplona, Babajuba, and Siaton, for a voluntary search on July 18, 2020, with the Commission on Human Rights officer Jess Canete, barangay officials, Isagani Bana of Junob, and mediamen as witnesses, to show the public that he is not harboring any evidence ( Why should he?, asked probers) that would implicate him in Pepino’s murder. Of course nothing was found in the self-imposed search which was not backed up by a Judge order.—Ryan J. Sorote