Cops eye internal politics in slay of PUP exec
MANILA, Philippines—Politics within the Polytechnic University of the Philippines is one of the possible motives being eyed in the killing of the school’s vice president for administration and lawyer, Augustus Cezar, on Wednesday night.
Cezar was driving his Toyota Lite Ace van from the university to his home in Bangkal, Makati and had stopped at a street corner in Sta. Mesa at around 10:30 p.m. when he was shot dead by one of two motorcycle-riding assailants.
“These are hired professional killers,” Manila Police District homicide section head Senior Inspector Joselito De Ocampo told the Inquirer.
“They waited for their target and only spent two bullets, firing at the victim’s head,” he said.
De Ocampo said both assailants wore full-face crash helmets and were seen by witnesses apparently waiting for someone at the corner of Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard and Pureza Street before the assault.
Witnesses told police that one of the motorcycle riders stayed on the bike while the other, still wearing his helmet, walked toward an electric post at the street corner and waited.
The moment Cezar stopped at a traffic signal the gunman approached the driver’s side of the van and fired twice at the victim through the open window.
“The victim was instantly killed and the gunman casually walked toward his waiting companion and fled,” De Ocampo said.
Wounded in the incident was 25-year-old nurse Nina Nurulla, who was hit in the left hand by the bullet which had gone through the slain PUP official, he said.
The homicide section chief said they are looking into the possibility of politics within the university as well as personal grudges as the primary motives behind the killing.
De Ocampo said that Cezar could have been targeted having the second highest position in the university hierarchy. He also cited the political factions within PUP that have been embroiled for several months in a legal battle.
Cezar was one of many respondents in a case filed recently before the office of the Ombudsman by PUP president Dante Guevarra.
“But we still have to look into other angles, particularly the possibility that somebody else might have a personal grudge against him and wanted him dead,” De Ocampo explained.
“The entire PUP community is shocked by the death of Atty. Cezar. He is a kind and excellent educator and a good friend. We would like to express our deepest condolences with his family,” Guevarra told the Inquirer.
Asked if the legal dispute among officials of the university could be related to the killing, Guevarra said, “I don’t think it has any relation. It is a separate issue. If I filed charges against him and other officials, I was exercising my legal right.”
In a statement, the PUP office of the president said: The Polytechnic University of the Philippines is in deep sorrow for the loss of vice president for administration Atty. Augustus Cezar.
“Atty. Cezar has been in the university for the past 25 years. He first served as director for administration and was later on appointed as vice president for administration in 2007. He was an employee, a teacher, a fellow worker and an administrator.
“On behalf of the officials, employees, faculty and students of the PUP, we would like to express the university’s deepest sorrow and grief for the loss of Atty. Cezar. We also extend our condolences to the family, relatives and friends of the late vice president and we sincerely wish that justice be served for his untimely death,” the statement said.
MPD director Chief Superintendent Roberto Rongavilla has activated special investigation task group “August,” to be headed by deputy director for operations Senior Superintendent Fidel Posadas and composed of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, the legal office, the homicide section, the Scene of the Crime Office, and the Public Information Office.
Rongavilla said that apart from the angle of administrative differences, which has been raised by the victim’s colleagues, the task group is looking into the possibility that the killing may have been linked to Cezar’s profession as a lawyer.
“We will also be focusing on death threats that may have been previously received by the victim. We are already checking the calls and text messages on his mobile phone. We are looking into all possible angles,” the MPD director assured.
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