Shooter, a ‘good man’, benefactor of children
BENEFICIARIES of John Pope’s generosity planned to visit him in his house in barangay Calunasan yesterday to mark his 67th birthday.
According to Jessica Villamora, the late Canadian invited them to his house where they were expecting him to host a party.
She said they didn’t expect that their benefactor planned to go on a rampage at Cebu’s Palace of Justice where he shot three people before shooting himself in the temple.
Villamora and her three daughters were emotional as they recall Pope’s benevolence towards them in a radio interview.
The 40-year-old Jessica and her daughters lived in Argao town in southern Cebu. Villamora said Pope paid for her children’s education up to college. She said she met Pope in a mall in Cebu City in 1998.
After inviting her and her children for snacks, Jessica said Pope promised to support her and her children.
“In 2010, he stopped supporting us because he said he had problems and he didn’t want anyone of us to be involved. Until now, my daughters have yet to resume schooling, Villamora said in Cebuano.
Villamora said Pope also helped her and her siblings buy a small lot where they built a house.
Pope also helped some families in Alcantara town and even some children in Fuente Osmeña, she added.
Villamora said they frequently visited Pope in his former unit in Tuscania condominium in barangay Guadalupe. “He didn’t ask for anything from us, he helped others also,” she said.
Despite the murders, Jessica and her daughters said they still considered Pope a good person and not a troublemaker.
Pope, who was a journalist in Canada, went to the Philippines in the 1990s to meet his pen pal in Zamboanga.
According to Villamora, Pope’s pen pal would always ask for money prompting him to cut off their ties and move to Cebu in 1997.
Pope was issued a special residence retirement visa (SRRV) the following year, an official of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) said.
For “personal reasons,” he had his SRRV cancelled in March 8, 2011 and withdrew the $50,000 deposit he made in exchange for his permanent residency status in the country.
Elma Corbeta, officer-in-charge of PRA, said Pope explained that he needed the money to sustain his medication as he had a heart problem and to pay for the education of the children he had sponsored.
From then on, Pope’s residency status was changed to that of a tourist or a temporary visitor.
In October last year, the Bureau of Immigration issued a summary deportation order against Pope for being an “overstaying” and an “undesirable alien”.
Pope’s neighbors on Siloy St. in barangay Calunasan, Cebu City claimed he was a good man who sent poor children to school.
Madeline Tabar, 51, told Cebu Daily News that she never thought that Pope is capable of killing people.
Tabar, who lived next door to Pope, said she never saw the burly Canadian being violent, but had heard him yell at his live-in partner when she was still alive.
She said she’d overhear Pope raise his voice but not once did she see him hit his partner.
“Kana siya dili mana siya violente pero makadungog man ko niya nga mangisog kay katong buhi pa iyang live-in kay kuwaan mana siya ug kwarta unya ilaron,” she said.
Pope reportedly sent some children to school. Tabar said she always see people bringing their children to ask money from Pope.
Tabar said that Pope likes to take pictures of children.
Among the stack of documents he sent to CDN days before the courthouse shooting include photocopies of pictures showing him with a girl he claimed to have sent to school.
“I call her my special daughter. I have been blessed by God to have this child in my life,” Pope wrote.