Money talks*

I HATE to spoil the police’s declared success in solving the murder of Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe and his security escort, SPO2 Orlando Diaz, in Daraga, Albay, but it seems there’s more to this case than meets the eye.

There’s the issue of the PhP50-million reward that helped flush out the alleged gunmen from their hideout and supposed witnesses from their lairs.

In less than two weeks after the December 22 double-murder, six suspects have either surrendered or been arrested. When interviewed, two of them said they gave themselves up because not only do they fear for their safety but their eyes were also set on the prize money.

Fifty million pesos can make some men sing and dance to any music the “deejays” play.

Really, money talks.

This is where crack police investigators come in. They ought to vet the suspects’ and witnesses’ stories to ensure their veracity, backed by material evidence before declaring the Batocabe case solved.

*              *              *

All six suspects in police custody have pointed to Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo as the mastermind. They are either currently or were formerly employed as the mayor’s confidential staff.

If their accusations are true, then Baldo is either brainless or brazen enough to use his own people to kill Batocabe and Diaz. Being the man to beat by Batocabe in the mayoral election, authorities would most likely treat him as the prime suspect.

Emmanuel Judavar, one of the witnesses, claimed that Baldo also ordered a hit job on former Daraga mayor Gerry Jaucian when he was the vice mayor. The plot, however, was never executed when the mayor died of lung cancer in May last year.

So, I ask again: Is Baldo really that dull-witted or brazen enough to kill Jaucean? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to just wait for the mayor to die of natural causes? Or is he bobo enough not to know that the mayor’s life was slipping away?

The police should make an airtight case and not simply rely on the convenience of the alleged perpetrators’ statements to call the Batocabe-Diaz murder a closed case.

We do not wish to see this case go down the drain later when suspects retract their statements because of the all-too-familiar reasons that they were tortured and coerced by the police to blame their boss.

The word bungle should never belong in the police dictionary if they are indeed the real killers.

*              *              *

SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/

*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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