The Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation have been ordered to spare no one in their investigations into the killing of radio broadcaster “Rex” Cornelio Pepino in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, on May 5.
“We will follow where the evidence leads us. Charge those who will hamper your investigation," Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) executive director, Joel Sy Egco said in his order to the PNP and NBI.
In a video conference Wednesday, Egco said that Dumaguete City police chief, Lt.Col. Wilfredo Alarcon Jr., and NBI agent-in-charge Jose Ermie Monsato reported major breakthroughs in their investigation, including the identification of the alleged sedan used in tailing the victim until he was killed, and some Persons of Interest (PoI).
Pepino was a veteran commentator and a known critic of local politicians. He hosted “Pokpokin mo Baby” program that aired over DYMD Energy FM 93.7.He was gunned down point-blank, in the presence of his wife.
Egco said that it was learned during the meeting, which was also participated in by Department of Justice Undersecretary Mark Perete and the PTFoMSSecretariat, that investigators have very strong leads as to who could be behind the attack on Pepino.
He added that the involvement of some local government officials and personnel is not farfetched after probers were led to at least one vehicle registered to an office under the Negros Oriental provincial government.
"Do what you have to do. I know the intense pressure you are experiencing there. Do not be cowed by anyone. All these findings will be reported to the president, the Executive Secretary, Secretary of Justice and Secretary (Martin) Andanar,” Egco said, stressing that those who will come in the way and obstruct will be dealt with accordingly.
He also said that the virtual case conference was called by a Malacañang official after learning of the identification of the vehicles allegedly used in the killing and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of one of the PoIs.
VICTIM’S WIFE UNDER WPO
Egco also said that instruction was given to secure the victim's wife, Coleen, and to place her under the Witness Protection Program.
The special investigation task group (SITG) Pepino led by Col. Julian Entoma, provincial police director of Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, has positively identified the car used as surveillance and getaway vehicle in the incident, Egco said.
CCTV footages obtained by the task force showed that a Gray Toyota Vios with conduction number 072806 was seen parked near the radio station of DYMD Energy FM in Brgy. Calindagan, Dumaguete City on the night of the incident, and was later seen tailing Pepino after he left the station with his wife on board a motorcycle, the PTFoMS statement said.
The car’s registration was traced to the Provincial Assessor’s Office of Negros Oriental indicating possible involvement of local government officials, Egco also said in a statement.
He added that investigators are also looking into the mysterious death of a POI who was linked to the murder, and was shot and killed by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen on May 12, 2020, before policemen could serve a search warrant at his house.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the motive behind the killing of Rex Conelio was to silence him,” Egco said, adding that they are now on the verge of solving the case.*
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