PNP forms special group to probe journo’s murder in Western Samar
MANILA, Philippines — A special investigation task group (SITG) has been formed to look into the killing of a Pampanga-based journalist in Calbayog City, Western Samar, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said.
In a statement, Carlos said that he has already tasked the regional director of the Police Regional Office 8 (PRO-8) to form the SITG for the quick resolution on the death of Reuters and Bandera correspondent Jesus “Jess” Malabanan.
“The PNP is doing its best to immediately identify and arrest the person responsible for Malabanan’s death,” Carlos said on Thursday.
“I instructed the Regional Director of Police Regional Office 8 (PRO8) to create a Special Investigation Task Group to expedite the resolution of this case,” he added.
Malabanan was shot by an unknown assailant at close range Wednesday night. According to his wife who was with him when the incident happened, they were watching the television inside their store in Calbayog when the shooting happened.
According to Carlos, the SITG would be composed of investigators and teams from the regional office’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the Forensic Group, the Regional Intelligence Unit, and the Calbayog City Police Station.
They would be under the supervision of the deputy regional director for operations of PRO-8.
Eyewitnesses including the victim’s wife were unable to identify the gunman because it was already dark outside when the incident happened. However, the gunman was seen fleeing the crime scene aboard a motorcycle, along with another rider.
As of now, investigators are looking at footages of closed circuit television (CCTV) camera to check the identity of the people behind the attack. Checkpoints were also set-up immediately in possible exit points in the city, in an attempt to intercept the assailants.
Carlos said that the PNP understands the call of the family for a quick probe into the incident.
“We understand the call of the family and different groups to expedite the investigation of the case. These requests will not fall on deaf ears. Establishing the motive of the case can help us in going to the bottom of this. We just need the cooperation of the witnesses,” he said.
“The SITG will coordinate with the family of the victim amid reports that the victim has been receiving threats recently because of his profession or if there are other personal angles that are worth looking into,” he added.
Several groups have already condemned the killing of Malabanan, who was a former Defense beat reporter. According to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, the killing of Malabanan is proof of the state of impunity in the country, with journalists and activists being gunned down.
“The state of impunity in this country under the Duterte administration is no longer just alarming but is now actually running amuck. Kahit lumipat na ng base si Jess from Pampanga to Samar, pero talagang itinumba pa din,” Zarate said.
“This is indeed gravely condemnable, a grave misfortune that our country has to endure under this tyrannical administration,” he added.
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