The suspect in the twin killings of a tabloid columnist and his companion in Arayat, Pampanga last Sunday has been identified and charges of double murder will be filed this week, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Thursday.
Andanar, also Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), identified the gunman as Armando Maglaya Velasco, alias “Ambet” and “Lakay”, who works as a public relations man of a local carnival, colloquially known as peryahan, operating in Barangay Cacutud in the said town.
Citing a report from PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, Andanar said the gunman had initially sent surrender feelers through his wife.
“I commend the Task Force, the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) Region 3 and the Arayat Police headed by LTCOL Dale Soliba for a job well done. This proves that this administration will stop at nothing to hold perpetrators of violence against media workers to account. They can run and hide but the long arm of the law will eventually catch up on them,” Andanar said.
On the night of October 20, Jupiter Gonzales, a columnist for the tabloid Remate, and Christopher Tiongson were shot pointblank inside the former’s car apparently over a heated argument involving the perya operation there.
Probers surmised that Tiongson was shot first and died instantly while Gonzales managed to drive for about 50 meters before hitting a plantbox. He was declared dead upon arrival at the local hospital.
Velasco was even seen attempting to grab the wheel from the already wounded driver in an apparent attempt to commandeer the vehicle.
A closed circuit television camera (CCTV) captured the incident, which led authorities to immediately establish the identity of the gunman.
Egco earlier stated that the victims knew the suspect since the latter was seen casually entering Gonzales’ car through the left backdoor.
“Our investigation showed that Gonzales knew his killer. In fact, the gunman first boarded the left backseat of the victim’s car and presumably spoke with the victims. A CCTV footage shows that the gunman stepped out of the vehicle after about four minutes and opened the driver’s side in an apparent attempt to commandeer the vehicle.
However, Gonzales was still able to drive 50 meters away until he hit a flowerbox,” said Egco.
The day after the twin murders, Egco led PTFoMS investigators headed by PLTCOL Eder Collantes and PLTCOL Rechie Duldulao (ret) in taking over the investigation of the case in Arayat.
Andanar, meanwhile, assured that regardless of the reasons for the killings, murder shall not go unpunished.
He said charges of double murder are being prepared against Velasco and would be filed immediately. (story by Stacy Ang/CNS, Manila)