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Brains behind slay of messenger falls

A 31-YEAR-OLD woman tagged as the alleged ‘brains’ behind the slay of a young company messenger in Valenzuela City was arrested in her hiding place in Minalin, Pampanga by agents of the National Capital Region Police Office on Tuesday afternoon, NCRPO director, Brigadier General Vicente D. Danao Jr. announced yesterday.

The suspect, Joe-ann Cabatuan, a resident of Block 24, Lot 2 Martinez Homes in Barangay Ulingan West, Lawang Bato, Valenzuela City was arrested in Bgy. Lourdes in Minalin by a team of operatives from the Valenzuela City Police Station led by Lieutenant Doddie Aguirre 5 p.m. Tuesday, Danao said.

The official said the arrest of Cabatuan came following an instruction from Philippine National Police chief, General Debold M. Sinas to pursue all the suspects in the killing of Niño Hernando which went viral on social media.

The Valenzuela City Police Station headed by Colonel Fernando R. Ortega have been hot on the trail of the rest of the suspects in the brutal slay case and are following up all leads on the whereabouts of the suspects, said new Northern Police District director, Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz.

Cruz said Cabatuan, the 3rd of the six suspects identified in the killing of Hernando, was arrested on the strength of a warrant for robbery with homicide issued by Judge Snooky Maria Ana Bareno-Sagay of the Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court Branch 283 last November 19.

No bail was recommended for the temporary liberty of the woman and her co-accused.

The infamous rob-slay in Valenzuela City last October 9 attracted national attention and prompted then NCRPO chief, Gen. Sinas to order an all-out operation to get the killers and their mastermind.

Sinas has already announced the solution of the case.

The victim was seen being shot in the head by a motorcycle-riding assassin before the gunman and his cohorts escaped with Hernando’s bag containing more than P400,000 in cash and his motorcycle last October 9.

“This is part of our stepped-up effort to identify and arrest motorcycle-riding criminals in the country specifically those in Metro Manila as ordered by President Duterte,” the top cop said.

Two of the suspects identified as civilian Edgar Batchar,43; and AWOL Police Corporal Michael Castro are now under police custody while four others identified as the gunman, Rico Reyes alias ‘Ojam-Ojam,’21; Narciso Santiago alias ‘Tukmol,’37; and dismissed Police Officer 1 Anthony Cubos are still being hunted.

Cabatuan was believed to have tipped off the whereabouts and schedule of Hernando, a 39-year old messenger of Silver Fox Business Management Solution, Inc. with office in Valenzuela City. The woman was identified as the live-in partner of a man who is now in jail for raping her teenage sister. It was Hernando’s testimony which sent the suspect to jail.

Ortega said they have also found out that Cabatuan apparently tipped off the other suspects that the victim usually withdraws at least P2 million every week from a local bank.

The PNP chief said they will also use the Valenzuela City case as a ‘template’ in investigating and solving other similar crimes. He cited an honest-to-goodness investigation and the big help they got from CCTV footages along the scene which led to the identification of the criminals.

“We’ll try our best to solve other incidents of motorcycle-riding criminals as ordered by President Duterte,” Sinas assured the public.

Castro surrendered to the PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group and confessed his role in the infamous robbery-slay case

Castro, a former member of the NPD District Drug Enforcement Unit, signed an extra-judicial confession in the presence of his lawyer detailing his knowledge on the rob-slay case and tagged Cubos as their alleged ‘mastermind.’

Batchar also gave an extra-judicial confession in the presence of his lawyer identifying his cohorts in the case.

The suspect identified the driver of the black Montero as a certain ‘Sir Gerry’ who turned out to be Castro while the SUV’s passenger was one ‘Anthony Cubos’ who was described as an ex-policeman residing in Meycauayan City.

Shortly after the killing, the suspect said they met a the house of Cubos where he was given at P30,000 share.

The incident infuriated Sinas who ordered an all-out operation to get the killers. The breakthrough in the investigation came when several netizens posted photographs and videos of the incident on Facebook triggering another post about a mint green Yamaha Mio which was identical to the killer’s getaway vehicle.