THE Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said that a missing police officer “holds” the key to solving the killing of a radio broadcaster who was shot to death in front of his horrified wife in Dumaguete City three months ago.
According to PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Egco, they have strong reasons to believe that Police Executive Master Sergeant (PEMS) Reuel Pinero is now in the hands of higher PNP officials citing video footages showing he was with other police officers before boarding a helicopter en route to Metro Manila from Cebu which has been circulating in social media.
Citing reports from local investigators, PTFoMS said that Pinero and another policeman are among the persons of interest in the killing of DYMD 93.7 Energy MF broadcaster Rey Cornelio Pepino in Dumaguete City.
He was then reported missing by his family members as he was about to turn state witness in the slaying of Pepino who was shot five times at close range on May 5 by motorcycle-riding tandem.
“We have very strong reason to believe that PEMS Pinero is now in the hands of higher PNP officials and for that we will seek a clarification from the PNP leadership,” Egco said.
The National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines, in an official letter to PTFoMS, has requested “assistance” in locating Pinero after his wife, Nelly Pinero, made a public plea to the PNP leadership to find her missing husband in a press conference held last August 12.
The NPC also noted that another POI in the case, NOPPO Police Officer Melgin Bulandres, was also reported missing.
Bulandres was said to be a close colleague of Pinero and has “crucial knowledge” about Pepino’s killing.
The NPC through Vice President Paul M. Gutierrez sought the task force’s assistance in confirming the actual whereabouts of policemen Bulandres and Pinero, if they are indeed now with the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and also, the circumstances surrounding their “transfer” there.
“Both policemen can shed light on Pepino’s murder which has drawn condemnation from local, national and international media and human rights organizations,” the NPC said.
Meanwhile, the PTFoMS will start a new round of investigations into the murder of Pepino following the designation of Administrative Order 1 (AO1) Prosecutor Kelly Eusebio P. Catalan who will lead the Special Investigation Team for New Cases (SITN) earlier convened by Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, Chairman of PTFoMS.
Guevarra explained that “it is imperative that there is a pro-active involvement of the prosecutor during the criminal investigation of cases involving media violence and other egregious human rights violations.”
Egco expressed optimism that the latest developments in the case of Pepino, including the transfer of Pinero to the capital region, will serve the ends of justice.
“Let us put our trust in our institutions and the justice system. There will be no sacred cows. There will be no coverup. I sincerely hope that those behind this dastardly act will have their day in court,” Egco stressed.