Three persons allegedly connected to the New People's Army (NPA) have been named as the suspects in the murder of Dumaguete City radio broadcaster Edmund Sestoso, less than a month after he was shot to death.
Senior Superintendent Raul Tacaca, director of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NORPPO) told GMA News Online in an interview on Monday that a certain Rene Bustamante, also known as "Pediong," "Jade B. Hervias" and "Jury Merecido," as well as two John Does, a certain "Ka Mokong" and "Ka Sherwin," were identified as the respondents in the murder complaint filed last Friday.
"Ka Mokong" and "Ka Sherwin," whose updated facial composites were also released to the media over the weekend, are said to be the motorcycle-riding gunmen who shot Sestoso near his boarding house in Barangay Daro, Dumaguete City last April 30 after doing his radio program "Tug-anan sa Power 91" over station dyGB 91.7 FM.
The three suspects, as indicated in the complaint, reside in Barangay Bakid in Guihulngan City.
Sestoso's wife, Lourdes, filed the murder raps against the three suspects at the City Prosecution Office Friday last week.
On the same day, two vital witnesses also came forward to file their sworn statements.
Tacaca said that according to a witness on the case, the possible motive behind Sestoso's killing was a personal vendetta, as the gunmen are allegedly Bustamante's nephews who wanted to get even for their uncle's arrest a few years ago.
Bustamante, who Tacaca described as a "secretary" of the NPA in Negros, was arrested in 2014 in a checkpoint in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental. He reportedly suspected that Sestoso may have something to do with his arrest, as they were said to have been talking to each other a few days prior.
The same witness claimed to have personal knowledge of "Ka Mokong" and "Ka Sherwin," and his statements were the basis in naming the three as respondents in the murder complaint. His claims on Bustamante's suspicions were also corroborated by Sestoso's colleague, who filed his support affidavit on Friday.
"Buhay pa lang si Edmund, sinabihan na siya na mag-ingat dahil may naghahanap sa kanya," Tacaca told GMA News Online.
The provincial police director pointed out that based on the evidence they have gathered so far and the statements of the three key witnesses, the political angle never surfaced in the probe.
So far, investigators are convinced that Sestoso's killing had had something to do with his alleged links with communists and not with his job as a journalist and his radio commentaries. This was despite the NPA releasing a statement condemning the broadcaster's murder on May 3.
Asked why the NPA would kill Sestoso despite his alleged connections to the group, Tacaca said that Sestoso's links have yet to be proven, adding that Sestoso's name has never appeared in any document recovered from military operations in Negros.
Now that the murder complaint has been filed, it will go through a “long, long process” that will take at least 60 days, assistant city prosecutor Angela Charina Cortes-Garces said.
For his part, Dumaguete Press Club President Juancho Gallarde said he is glad that the case has been filed less than a month after Sestoso’s killing. — BAP, GMA News