Davao City police official charged with murder in court for Richard King’s slay
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—After months of being under restrictive custody in Camp Crame, former police regional intelligence unit chief, Supt. Leonardo Felonia was charged with murder for his alleged involvement in the murder of billionaire businessman Richard King in Davao last June.
Supt. Tony Rivera, regional police spokesperson, said the regional trial court officially accepted the murder case against Felonia from the prosecutor’s office on Tuesday.
“The information was forwarded by the prosecutor’s office to the RTC Branch 17 finding probable cause to file murder charge against Felonia,” Rivera told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.
The 56-year-old King, owner of the Crown Regency Group of Hotels and health products company Vital-C, was shot at close range in the head while in a gathering of his distributors inside Vital-C’s building in Obrero last June 12.
King was also the chair of the Vital-C Land Development Corp, the CEO of J. King and Sons, the president of Fuente Triangle Realty Development Corp and the founder and director of Boracay Multiple Properties Developers Inc.
Days after the murder, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed that local police forces would solve the killing, which eventually led to the arrest of three suspects.
The Davao City Police Office arrested Paul Labang, Rodel dela Cerna and Rommel dela Cerna.
Initial investigations showed that Labang was the trigger-man who was also positively identified by the witnesses. Rommel allegedly conducted the surveillance and confirmed that the target was in the building while Rodel acted as the driver of the get-away motorcycle.
Police sources, meanwhile, confirmed that Rommel was an active police asset at the time of the murder.
After their arrest, Rommel claimed during an interview with members of the press that the killing was ordered by a high-ranking police official.
The next day, Duterte, on a short notice, arranged a meeting with investigators at the National Bureau of Investigation office in the city. Duterte explained to the NBI that Felonia surrendered to him and sought his help after his name was implicated in the murder.
The mayor admitted that Felonia’s name was mentioned by one of the suspects.
Duterte said that Felonia refused to surrender to the PNP and that he suggested that he surrender to the NBI instead.
Felonia, during the short press conference with Duterte, insisted on his innocence and committed to fully cooperate with the authorities.
“That is why I am here. I am submitting myself to the investigation,” Felonia said.
After days of staying at the NBI, Felonia was eventually fetched by the PNP and brought to Camp Crame.
With the formal complaint filed against Felonia, it is not yet clear whether the police official will be transported back to Davao or will continue to be under the custody of the PNP in Camp Crame.
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