Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is no longer facing a blank wall in the Sunday night killing of Remate columnist Jupiter Gonzales and his companion in Arayat, Pampanga.
PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco announced yesterday, October 23, that the task force has identified the lone gunman, who was seen on CCTV footage. He took off on a motorcycle after the incident.
His identity was withheld until formal charges had been filed, said Egco and was connected with the local carnival near where the incident happened.
Gonzales, who wrote a column for the tabloid, Remate, was also known as a staunch critic of illegal gambling proliferating in local carnivals.
However, initial police probes reported that motive for the killing “is very strong” and that “it was not related to media work at all.”
Gonzales and his friend, Christopher Tiongson, were shot pointblank while inside the newsman’s car.
Police Lt. Col. Eder Collantes and P/Lt. Col. Rechie Duldulao (ret) went to Arayat last Monday to conduct their own investigation on the twin killings. In a case briefing, the investigators visited the crime scene and, at the same time, met and condoled with the victims’ families.
“We are now following up a very strong lead, fact is, we now have a POI (Person of Interest) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Central Luzon and the Arayat police are now in the process of building up an airtight case,” said Egco.
“Our initial 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 side,” said Egco.
The report said Gonzales’ car moved forward for about 50 meters until it hit a flowerbox.
Probers believed the victims were shot at pointblank range inside the vehicle.
They said Tiongson must have been shot in the head and died instantly while Gonzales, although already wounded, was “finished” while attempting to flee.
Egco and other officials, including Arayat Police chief, Lt. Col. Dale Soliba, surmised that the gunman and the victims had a heated argument inside the car.
The CCTV footage clearly showed the car with the victims and the gunman near a local carnival (peryahan) and at a busy intersection. Many witnessed the incident up to the time the gunman took off on a motorcycle. (Stacy Ang /Ismael Amigo /CNS)