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Killer of Remate columnist, companion identified

/ 09:27 PM October 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines—The police already have a suspect in the killing of newspaper columnist Jupiter Gonzales and his companion in Arayat, Pampanga, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) announced Tuesday.

Gonzales, 52, and his companion Christopher Tiongson were riding a Nissan Almera in Barangay Cacutud bound for Olongapo when they were shot around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday. Their car swerved and slammed into a plant box by the roadside following the attack.

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Tiongson died instantly while Gonzales was declared dead on arrival.

READ: Gunman kills Remate columnist, companion  

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In a statement, PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco announced that investigators have already established the identity of the alleged gunman who shot Gonzales and Tiongson.

But the Palace media task force chief said the motive and the name of the lone gunman would be withheld until formal charges have been filed.

Egco said an initial investigation showed that Gonzales “knew his killer,” who supposedly boarded the backseat of the car before shooting the victims.

“In fact, the gunman first boarded the left backseat of the victim’s car and presumably spoke with the victims,” Egco said.

“A CCTV footage shows that the gunman stepped out of the vehicle after about four minutes and opened the driver side in an apparent attempt to commandeer the vehicle. However, Gonzales was still able to drive 50 meters away until he hit a flowerbox,” he added.

Probers believed the victims were shot at point-blank range inside the vehicle.

Egco and other officials, including Arayat Police chief Lt. Col. Dale Soliba, surmised that the gunman and the victims had a heated argument sometime during the shooter’s four-minute stay in the backseat.

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“I watched the CCTV footage where the car of the victims and the gunman are clearly seen. Since the scene of the crime is just a few meters away from the local carnival, or peryahan, and at a busy intersection, there were many people who witnessed the incident up to the time when the gunman took off on a commandeered motorcycle,” the official said.

Egco earlier said Gonzales, a Remate columnist, was known for being a staunch critic of illegal gambling at local carnivals or “peryahan.”

While he claimed that initial investigation indicated that the motive of the killings was “not related to media work,” Egco also said the killer was later established to have worked at the said “peryahan.”

The Task Force expects charges to be filed “in the next few days” after follow-up investigations by the police.

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