De Lima bodyguard shot dead in Bulacan
An officemate dropped him off in Cubao on Thursday night after they escorted Justice Secretary Leila de Lima home. That was the last time members of De Lima’s staff saw Alister Quintos alive.
Friday morning, Quintos’ body, still clad in barong, was found in Bulacan with a gunshot wound in the chest. His service firearm was missing.
“We are shocked, we are all shocked,” De Lima told reporters soon after learning that Quintos, one of her close-in security officers, had been killed. “He was with the others last night when they accompanied me home. He was OK yesterday. He was a very kind, quiet person, always smiling.”
“Incidents like this should not be taken for granted. You can never tell but, of course, it will be investigated,” De Lima said when asked if she considered Quintos’ killing a threat to her own safety.
De Lima has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel investigation with the police.
Quintos, 32, was found dead on a road in San Ildefonso, Bulacan. How he ended up there was not immediately clear.
Phone call unattended
De Lima said her office learned of the killing when it received a phone call from the police asking if Quintos was working at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and informing them that the man bearing the identity of Quintos had been killed.
Trying to confirm the report, De Lima’s other aides called Quintos’ two mobile phones. One of the phones was unattended. The call on the other phone was answered by a police investigator in San Ildefonso.
De Lima said she received another call from the head of the Bulacan police confirming the body was indeed that of Quintos.
Bulacan police believed the victim was brought to the border of San Ildefonso town and then shot and killed. At first, they had no idea that the man, who looked like a stranger to the place, was a security aide of De Lima’s.
Last seen at 10 p.m.
San Ildefonso municipal administrator Edgardo Galvez, a former mayor, said residents in Barangay Garlang heard a gunshot at around 7 a.m. Friday and found the body of a man in a barong.
The road where the murder occurred straddles Garlang and the neighboring town of San Miguel.
Initial information showed De Lima’s other aides dropped off Quintos on P. Tuazon Boulevard in Cubao at around 10 p.m. on Thursday.
Quintos was a member of the DOJ’s Intelligence Service Operations Group (Isog). He was last seen alive by a De Lima aide known only by his first name Romy, who said Quintos got off in Cubao, where Quintos was to take a ride home to Antipolo City.
“His firearm is missing and he was still wearing the barong uniform he wore yesterday,” De Lima said. “Apparently, he hadn’t yet gone home.”
‘He was joking’
During the interview with reporters, Romy was asked by De Lima if Quintos had mentioned anything about any threat or any problem before they separated.
“None, ma’am. He was joking. I told him to take care, go home early and we said goodbye,” the aide replied.
In January, security was tightened at the DOJ compound in Manila in the wake of reported death threats against De Lima.
De Lima had said there were no specific threats against her but that there were reports that suspicious individuals had been “casing” the DOJ compound.
She said the Isog and “other credible sources” had received intelligence information about possible threats against her which might be connected to high-profile cases the DOJ was handling.
The DOJ recently hired a private security agency to screen visitors and issue area-specific passes.
Previously, the DOJ compound, which also houses the offices of government prosecutors, had been accessible to the public, with security guards only conducting on-the-spot bag checks and helping visitors by giving them directions.
Police spokesperson Senior Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the Police Regional Office 3 had been ordered to investigate. “We are waiting for their initial report on the subject,” he said. With a report from Dona Pazzibugan
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