Probers in Pilapil case focus on missing woman | Inquirer News

Probers in Pilapil case focus on missing woman

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 04:16 AM April 19, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Police investigators have turned their sights on a woman with actress Pilar Pilapil the night two men seized their vehicle and repeatedly stabbed the 1967 Miss Philippines.

Senior Supt. Joel Coronel, head of the Special Investigation Task Group Pilar, said he had ordered a background check on Rosel Jakosalem Peñas, including her travel records with the Bureau of Immigration.

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He said Peñas, who remained missing since the incident on Thursday night in a Marikina City parking lot, recently arrived from Australia to spend the summer with her relatives in the country.

Speaking in a news briefing, Coronel said the police were also checking on her employment records with Unilever Philippines, where she reportedly worked before migrating to Australia two years ago.

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“One of our principal objectives as of this moment is to locate the whereabouts of Rosel Jakosalem Peñas,” he said.

Apparently, even the top officials of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) are still unsure of Peñas’ background four days after the incident.

Coronel, who also heads the CIDG unit in Metro Manila, said the woman was described by Pilapil herself as a niece of her husband Bernie Peñas.

Conflicting details

The Marikina City police station had earlier identified her as Rossel Rosalem and an “old acquaintance” of Pilapil, 60.

On the other hand, CIDG director Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao said Peñas was actually Bernie Peñas’ sister-in-law.

In fact, Pagdilao said the woman’s husband, Bernie Peñas’ brother Noel, showed a copy of their marriage certificate when he was invited for questioning.

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“Maybe Pilapil was just confused when he related that information about (Peñas),” he told the Inquirer.

Not a suspect

While saying that Peñas was not a suspect, Pagdilao said, “We are not discounting anything. We are carefully gathering evidence to solve this incident.”

Coronel also claimed that the Kia vehicle that Peñas was reportedly driving had been traced to the British-Dutch multinational company Unilever.

However, Pagdilao said local Unilever officials had told him that “there was no missing vehicle in their inventory.” He said police have yet to ascertain the license plate of the missing vehicle.

“But we are still trying to confirm this contrasting information,” Pagdilao said.

According to Coronel, Pilapil and Peñas were supposed to meet with the Australian executives of Unilever at Marikina Riverbanks Center before they were seized by two knife-wielding men.

“The victims were supposed to meet with them for a business deal,” Coronel said.

Unilever spokesperson Chito Macapagal said Peñas is not an employee of Unilever in the Philippines or elsewhere in the region. He also said no Kia vehicle is registered under Unilever.

Coronel said it was still unclear why Peñas was driving a vehicle owned purportedly by her former employer.

Pilapil, who was beaten and repeatedly stabbed, remains confined at The Medical City hospital in Pasig City. Doctors said she was in stable condition.

Peñas’ husband had told police his wife had sent a text message to him at 1 a.m. on Friday saying she was in a taxi on her way home. At 10 a.m., also on Friday, the husband said he received a call from Peñas asking for help and saying “someone wants to kill me” before the line went dead.

Breakthrough likely

Without any evidence leading to other motives, Coronel said they were still treating the incident as a possible case of abduction or car robbery.

Asked if they were having difficulty in investigating the case, he replied: “No. In fact, we have several leads that we are now following up.”

Pagdilao asked the media to be patient, expressing confidence that a breakthrough will be made while pointing to an artist’s portrait of one suspect.

“Don’t treat this case as if it happened more than a year ago,” he said. “This composite sketch of one of the suspects is already an important breakthrough in the investigation.” With a report from Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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