Grab driver killed over P26-K ‘drug debt’
The suspect in the killing of a female Grab driver told authorities that he “lost it” when she started nagging him over the P26,000 he owed her.
Paolo Largado was charged on Thursday with the murder of Maria Cristina Palanca, 43, in the Rizal provincial prosecutor’s office in Taytay.
Car theft and drug charges were also filed against Largado, 34, a former call center agent, after he yielded a sachet of suspected “shabu”(crystal meth).
Police Col. Alvin Consolacion, police chief of Cainta, Rizal, said the suspect was arrested at a gasoline station in Pasig City around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, days after lawmen discovered Palanca’s body.
The victim had been missing since last week. On Sunday, policemen found her decomposing body in a kitchen sink cabinet at Largado’s condominium unit in Cainta.
Stench leads to body
The discovery was made after the suspect’s neighbors complained of the stench coming from his unit. An autopsy showed that Palanca had died of suffocation.
Largado claimed that he owed the Grab driver P26,000 because she had sold him drugs.
Consolacion told the Inquirer that policemen recovered pieces of “foil and a tooter,” supposedly for drug use, in Largado’s bathroom although there were no drugs.
The Cainta police said they were still trying to verify Largado’s allegation that the victim was involved in the drug trade.
On Tuesday, the police recovered the victim’s Toyota Avanza, which she drove for Grab, in Lucena City, Quezon province. It turned out that Largado had pawned the vehicle for P30,000 to an acquaintance in the area.
According to Consolacion, they had been trying to find Largado through his relatives and friends when they learned that he was back in Pasig. He took the bus after leaving Palanca’s vehicle in Quezon.
The police also discovered that Largado had pawned his and Palanca’s cell phones in Cainta “because he needed money.”
“We knew he had shaved his head. He checked into a motel [in Pasig] and was supposed to meet his girlfriend at a nearby gas station,” Consolacion said.
Quoting Largado, the police official said the suspect once booked a ride with Palanca who lived in Antipolo City, Rizal.
“He said that was how they met but it was not very long ago,” Consolacion said.
On May 23, Palanca dropped off a passenger in Pasig and went to Largado’s condominium “to ask him to pay her,” he said.
“[Largado] said Palanca was nagging him and starting to make a scene [so] he lost it and ended up killing her,” he added.
When interviewed by reporters, the suspect said Palanca was carrying a gun when she went to his condominium.
But Consolacion said the police did not find any firearm in the suspect’s unit.
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