MANILA -- Authorities on Sunday announced the arrest of four suspects in last week's killing of Barangay Bagong Silangan chairwoman Crisell Beltran, who was seeking a congressional seat in Quezon City.
Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Director, Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel, identified the suspects as Teofilo Formanes, 48, inspector at Commonwealth Market; Juab brothers Ruel, 38, delivery boy, and Orlando, 32, a vendor, ; and Joppy Juab, 28, also a vendor.
He said Formanes was the first to be arrested in a follow-up operation on Friday (Feb. 1) morning at the back of Commonwealth Market by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) under Chief Insp. Elmer Monsalve.
This was after eyewitnesses in the shooting incident positively identified Formanes in a gallery of rouges that closely resembled a facial composite illustration.
The operatives proceeded to the Commonwealth Market who spotted Formanes about to board his motorcycle and with a handgun visibly tucked in the waist.
The suspect violently resisted arrest and tried to pull his firearm but was subsequently subdued. Confiscated from his possession were a caliber .9mm pistol with serial No. 488990 loaded with nine live ammunitions, a black Yamaha Mio Sporty motorcycle without plate number, two baseball caps, a cellular phone and three hand-held radios.
Formanes identified his cohorts in the ambush that led the operatives to conduct a follow-up operation at No. 38 Steve St. Barangay Commonwealth which resulted in the arrest of the Juab brothers. The two resisted and physically attacked the police but were subdued.
Seized from them were a Shooters .9mm pistol loaded with 12 live ammunitions, a home-made caliber .38 revolver with five live ammunitions, a hand grenade, a Magnum .22-caliber revolver and four cellular phones.
During the arrest of the suspects, three other persons identified as Miguel Juab, 26, Mangmang Rasia, 26, and Boy Fernandez, 52, were also arrested for obstruction of justice, after they prevented the police from making the arrest.
Meanwhile, Formanes further told the police that a certain Cosette Capistrano, 50, who was at the administration office of the Commonwealth Market, kept the firearm of another suspect in the ambush identified as Warren Juab, a cousin of Capistrano.
Capistrano led the operatives to Unit 312 LRB Building 7, Republic Ave., Barangay Holy Spirit but managed to warn Juab who eventually escaped along with another suspect identified as Dutch Boy Bello, 34.
Hence, Capistrano was arrested for obstruction of justice along with another female person identified as Angelie Juab, 27, the wife of Warren who both helped Warren and Dutch Boy Bello escape.
When frisked, Angelie Juab yielded 23 pieces of ammunition for .45-caliber pistol and a cellular phone. They also recovered a black Yamaha Mio 125 and 12-gauge shotgun ammunition.
The suspects are now detained at QCPD and will be facing cases of murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder, and illegal possession of firearms in relation to the Omnibus Election Code and were referred for inquest to the City Prosecutor’s Office.
Additional charges of unlawful possession of explosives, direct assault, resistance and disobedience to an agent of person in authority will also be filed against Joppy and Ruel Juab.
Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) head, Director Guillermo Eleazar, said Beltran's killing can be considered as election-related violence (ERV).
“We all know that we are in the election period now and Chairwoman Beltran was an elected barangay official and was running for congresswoman of the 2nd District of Quezon City. So we consider that election-related violence incident. Still, we have to check what really is the motive for the killing,” Eleazar said in Filipino during a radio interview.
He said the killing of Beltran was the first election-related violence in Metro Manila as no such incident has been recorded in the region in the past election periods.
While politics remains as the primary angle, Metro Manila’s top cop said they are not ruling out other motives as part of their investigation.
The QCPD immediately created Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Beltran headed by QCPD Deputy District Director for Operations (DDDO), Senior Supt. Erson Udal Digal, and assisted by a nine-member team to facilitate the investigation and speedy resolution of the case.
Esquivel lauded the witnesses who provided useful information that led to the quick solution to the murder of Beltran and her driver Melchor Salita. He also lauded the painstaking and collaborative efforts of the SITG Beltran that led to the immediate arrest of the suspects.
Beltran and Salita were on board a white Ford Everest when they were shot by four unidentified men on board two motorcycles at about 11:30 a.m. last January 30.
They were rushed to the FEU Hospital and Malvar General Hospital, respectively, but were both pronounced dead on arrival. (PNA)
Photo by Grig C. Montegrande/Inquirer