PNP tags brother in Subic trader’s slay
A bitter quarrel over business between two brothers that turned deadly — that is what cost trader Dominic Lim Sytin his life, the Philippine National Police said on Monday.
Director General Oscar Albayalde, the PNP chief, announced in a news conference at Camp Crame, Quezon City, a breakthrough in the investigation of Sytin’s Nov. 28, 2018, murder, naming the trader’s younger brother Dennis Lim Sytin as the mastermind and reporting the arrest of the confessed gunman, Edgardo Paredes Luib.
Luib, alias Inject, has been implicated in several other murders, including the 2015 gun slaying of former Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Melinda Magsino in Batangas City.
Albayalde said a witness gave investigators a lead to Luib’s identity, which led to his arrest in Santo Tomas, Batangas province, on March 5 and to the identification of Dennis Sytin as the mastermind.
Dennis denied the accusation, calling it a “brazen lie” in an e-mail to the Inquirer late on Monday.
“It is regrettable that although the police investigators themselves have acknowledged the information that I gave them and that I was ready at all times to help in the investigation, I now have to defend myself against those who have, without basis, maliciously pointed to me as responsible for my own brother’s death,” Dennis said.
Addressing his friends and relatives, he said: “I am not the kind who can kill any person, let alone my own brother who, despite our differences, I have loved together with my other siblings.”
The Sytin family owns United Auctioneers Inc. (UAI), a heavy equipment company founded by Dominic, who was also its chief executive officer.
Dennis has a 20-percent stake in the company, and was its chief operating officer until his firing in November, days before Dominic was shot dead at Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales province.
Director Amador Corpus, chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Dennis was fired on Nov. 15 for forming his own company and poaching UAI clients.
“The brothers had a big fight then and he (Dennis) was barred from going to UAI,” Corpus told reporters.
Corpus said Dennis employed Ryan Rementilla, who was fired from UAI in August last year for embezzling company funds.
He said Dennis asked Rementilla, who changed his name to Oliver Fuentes when he joined UAI in 2001, to look for a hit man to kill Dominic after his quarrel with his elder brother and firing from UAI.
Rementilla got Luib, a childhood friend, for the job, Corpus said.
A man whose face was covered with a handkerchief waited for Dominic Sytin outside Lighthouse Marina Resort Hotel at Subic Bay Freeport on the evening of Nov. 28.
As Sytin stepped out of the hotel, the man fired several shots at him and his bodyguard, Efren Espartero, then casually walked toward a motorcycle parked nearby and drove away.
The Sytin family offered a P1-million reward for information that would lead to the identification of the gunman and the mastermind.
Albayalde said a walk-in informant tipped the CIDG to the gunman’s identity, leading to Luib’s arrest in the house of his common-law wife in Santo Tomas.
The PNP chief said CIDG officers served two warrants on Luib, one for the murder of Michael Caringal, a councilor in Bauan, Batangas, in 2013, and the other for the murder of Magsino in 2015.
The officers seized three handguns from Luib, including an M1911 whose signature matched those on two slugs and nine of 13 spent casings for caliber .45 ACP bullets recovered from the crime scene.
Luib’s fingerprints also matched those found on a motorcycle that investigators found earlier.
“In the presence of his family and [lawyer], Edgardo Luib executed an extrajudicial confession detailing his alleged participation and that of his coconspirators in the murder of Dominic Lim Sytin,” Albayalde said.
According to the PNP chief, Luib said Rementilla had hired him for the hit and he had received P50,000 of the P1-million contract price.
Albayalde said Dennis was still in the country and police needed a warrant to bring him in.
Investigators said they last talked to Dennis sometime in February.
Rementilla has been reported to have gone into hiding.
Albayalde said three other suspects remained unaccounted for, but charges of murder and frustrated murder—in the wounding of Espartero—had been brought against them, Luib and Dennis Sytin in the Department of Justice.
The business community at Subic Bay Freeport lauded the police for the breakthrough in the investigation of Sytin’s murder, while the family of Magsino welcomed the arrest of Luib.
Efficient and effective
“I’m relieved that the PNP was able to solve the case and arrest the gunman responsible for Dominic’s untimely death,” said Jay Mendoza, who serves on the board of directors of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce.
Wilma Eisma, chair and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, commended the police for their “efficient and effective work” in bringing in the confessed gunman.
“[The news of Luib’s arrest] is giving me goosebumps,” said a relative of Magsino who asked not to be identified.
According to information from the Batangas police, Luib is a native of Laguna province, but went into hiding in Batangas.
Sources in Batangas said Luib was known for his links to local officials in Santo Tomas. —WITH REPORTS FROM CATHRINE GONZALES, MARICAR CINCO AND INQUIRER RESEARCH
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