2 cops arrested as suspects in lawyer’s killing in Rizal town
Updated @ 11:14 p.m., July 7, 2019, to add more details
SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna, Philippines — Security camera footage that followed the tracks of gunmen in the May 17 ambush of a lawyer in Rodriguez town, Rizal province, led investigators to their fellow police officers.
A police source, who declined to be named for lack of authority to discuss the case, said investigators had yet to determine the motive as they, too, were surprised that Cpl. Alberto Umali and Senior Master Sgt. Michael Eralino, both active members of the Rodriguez police force, were involved in the killing of lawyer Edilberto Golla Jr.
Golla, 45, a native of Sultan Kudarat province, was shot dead by gunmen on a motorcycle outside the Eastwood Greenview Subdivision in Rodriguez, where the lawyer lived.
A report from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on Sunday said Umali and Eralino were arrested separately on Saturday in a police operation. They were arrested based on a search warrant issued by Judge Cynthia Mariño-Ricablanca of Santa Cruz, Laguna province, for murder and illegal possession of firearms.
Umali, who had just ended his shift, was arrested in Barangay San Rafael, Rodriguez, while policemen had to wait for Eralino in his house in Taytay town in Rizal as he was at the regional police headquarters in Laguna at the time CIDG personnel searched his home.
“[Eralino] was speechless but was visibly shocked when he saw [the arresting team],” the source said.
A special task force formed to solve Golla’s killing started off with the security cameras of Eastwood Greenview that showed the gunmen, wearing ski masks and jackets, escaping after the shooting.
Investigators checked other security cameras along the gunmen’s route until they were led to footage showing the suspects enter a police housing compound in Rodriguez.
Another set of footage from a different security camera showed the police officers’ faces with the same motorcycle used in the killing and similar jackets as those the gunmen had used.
A police report identified Umali and Eralino as “persons of interest” in the Golla case, with the source saying that all they have right now were “circumstantial evidence.”
The source, however, believed Eralino had tried to mislead the investigation by presenting Conrado Esteban, a police errand boy who later turned up dead, as a “fall guy.”
The source said the Eralino and Umali would nonetheless face charges after a gun, two grenades and several bullets were found in their possession. —Reports from Maricar Cinco and Marrah Erika Rabe
(Editor: Tony Bergonia)