Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar on Sunday said the case of the killing and alleged rape of a 21-year-old transgender man in Quezon City was "resolved."
In a press conference on Sunday, Eleazar said they filed criminal complaints of rape with homicide and robbery against three suspects allegedly involved in the rape-slay of victim Norriebi "Ebeng Mayor" Tria.
"Hindi tayo titigil na matapos dito, na naaresto at na-identify at na-file ng kaso sa mga suspect (We will not stop here, that the suspects were identified and and face raps)," Eleazar said.
"By the way, case of rape with robbery homicide was referred before the city prosecutor through online yesterday or last night. This was accepted by the Office of City Prosecutor of Quezon City," he added.
Also, Eleazar said the case is not yet "closed" because the suspects have not yet been convicted for their crimes.
"As of closing the case, hindi natin sinasara 'yan unless magkaroon ng conviction. Ang gusto natin makuha ang hustisya para sa kanyang mga magulang at para sa ating lahat na rin," the PNP chief said, adding that they will gather more evidence to strengthen their case.
(We are not closing this case. We want to seek justice for the parents but also for everyone.)
Asked if the PNP considers the case as a hate crime against LGBT community, Eleazar said: "Isa rin 'yan sa iniimbestigahan. Hindi lang LGBTQ, lahat tayo, should condemn this." (We are not investigating this. Not only LGBTQ but everyone should condemn this.)
Police Major Elmer Monsalve, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), identified the suspects as Zander Dela Cruz, 22; Joel Loyola alias Nonoy Sablay, 30; and Richard Elvin Araza , 34.
In the same press briefing, QCPD chief Brigadier General Antonio Yarra said a case of robbery was filed against Araza after they retrieved from him the victim's cellphone.
"The cellphone of the victim was recovered from the possession of the other suspect alias Richard," said Yarra.
On Saturday, two suspects were arrested after police conducted a hot pursuit operation. They were caught after Dela Cruz, who was invited on Friday night for investigation in Payatas, Quezon City, pointed to them as suspects in the crime.
The victim's corpse was discovered in Bagong Silang on Thursday days after having a drinking session with friends.
In a memorandum circular, the PNP considers a case solved if the following elements were in place:
- The offender has been identified;
- There is sufficient evidence to charge him;
- The offender has been taken into custody; and
- The offender has been charged before the prosecutor's office or court of appropriate jurisdiction.
2 suspects have drug charges
Monsalve said Araza and Loyola had existing drug complaints in 2019 but were able to leave jail after securing "plea bargaining."
"The two suspects were detained for illegal drugs in 2019, especially Joey Loyola. They were released because they availed plea bargaining," Monsalve said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"They were given plea bargaining to give them a chance to change," he added.
In addition, Monsalve said they also allegedly retrieved a gun from Loyola during the arrest.
"Noong nandoon na sila inaaresto na, naka-tuck sa tagiliran 'yung baril. Kaya lang hindi niya nahugot. Naunahan siya nu'ng mga pulis kaya na-recover ang baril," Monsalve said.
(When he was being arrested, the gun was tucked in his side. He was not able to pull his gun, so the police immediately recovered it.)
Meanwhile, Eleazar said the suspects underwent drug tests but they are still waiting for the results.
QC gov't denounces killing
For her part, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte condemned the "senseless and barbaric act" against the victim, one of the members of the LGBT community.
“This type of violence has no space in a civilized society where everyone is treated equally and with the utmost respect. I hope that those behind this will be punished to the full extent of the law and rot in jail," said Belmonte in a statement issued Sunday.
Belmonte also hailed the QCPD for its speedy action in arresting the suspects in the the case.
“As I express my heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Ebeng Mayor, I also want to assure them that we won’t leave no stone unturned until justice is served for the death of their loved one”, Belmonte said.
She also said the city government has been coordinating with the victim's family to provide any assistance.
Despite the victim's tragic death, Belmonte says Quezon City remains a safe space for the LGBT community.
Quezon City is among the first local governments in Metro Manila to approve and implement a gender fair ordinance that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE).
Belmonte also encouraged members of LGBT to contact Hotline 122 for immediate action on their complaints, or seek refuge in the QC Protection Center and Bahay Kanlungan temporary shelter if the need arises. —KG, GMA News