Six persons face murder charges for killing lawyer in Cebu City
Gunman in Lawyer Wee's killing, who was nabbed in Laguna, presented to media in Cebu
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Six individuals, including a resigned military officer, are now facing charges after they were accused of killing a lawyer in Cebu City.
The National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) on Thursday, December 10, formally filed cases against Fausto Edgar Benigno Peralta, John Raymond Cabantao Suarez, Randy Benito Palparan, and three John Does for murdering Lawyer Joey Luis Wee.
But only one of the six suspects identified has been arrested — which is Peralta.
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He was arrested last December 8 by operatives of the NBI’s central office in Laguna, and he was formally turned over to the custody of their regional counterparts here on Thursday.
Peralta happened to be a resigned military officer and a security supervisor of a warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna rented by an online shopping giant.
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Suarez and Palparan remained at large as of this posting.
NBI-7 Director and Lawyer Renan Augustus Oliva said they tracked down these suspects through gathering testimonials, documents, and electronic evidence — the latter which primarily helped them determine their identities.
“The CCTV (closed-circuit television) footage showing the suspects were positively identified by Mrs. Wee. The identification by the widow is more than enough (to signify that our evidence is strong),” said Oliva in Cebuano.
Investigators also believed that the motive behind the killing of Wee could be related to his work as a lawyer but they added that they were not eliminating other possibilities.
“Even if we have already filed charges against the suspects, and some of them even remained at large, our investigation will continue, especially that we are yet to identify the mastermind,” Oliva added.
Wee was fatally shot in front of a building where his law office is located in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City at past 1 p.m. last November 23.
In a press conference on Thursday, operatives from NBI-7 presented to the public several CCTV footage showing Peralta and five others present within the vicinity of the crime scene hours before the lawyer was shot, and when they rushed out of the area after it took place.
Oliva said all suspects are not from Cebu.
“Based on flight manifesto and airport CCTV footage we have gathered, the suspects, including Peralta, arrived from Luzon last November 13 and left the province on November 26. Imagine, they had two weeks to do surveillance and carry out the killing,” he explained.
Hours after Wee’s death, Oliva said the NBI’s central office in Manila conducted a ‘bureau-wide hot pursuit operation’ which led them to arrest Peralta.
Lawyer Daniel Daganzo, the NBI agent-in-charge of the case in Laguna who was also present during Thursday’s press conference, told reporters that they received information stating Peralta was found in Laguna.
“We monitored and verified this information until we positively identified it was him,” Daganzo said in Tagalog.
As to how the suspects traveled from Luzon to Cebu and back in a short amount of time despite restrictions due to threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Daganzo said the group could have been armed with the necessary documents to travel.
“They had medical certificates which were enough for a traveler to secure a ticket and a travel pass so you can travel from one place to another like from Luzon to Cebu,” he added.
Oliva also said they suspected Peralta and his ‘back-up shooter’ Suarez were moonlighting as gunmen-for-hire but admitted that they would still need more information and evidence to support this theory.
“We are also entertaining the possibility that there could people here in Cebu that helped them carry out the murder,” added Oliva.
“The most logical explanation there could be where did they get the guns? It’s not possible that they can pass through airport security without being detected for guns. Who also guided them out of the streets in Cebu City even if they are not from here? Somebody here helped them… It was a well-planned murder,” he said.
In the meantime, investigators from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) are also conducting their own investigation on Wee’s killing.
Police Colonel Josefino Ligan, CCPO director, said in a separate interview that they welcomed the development made by NBI-7.
Both Ligan and Oliva assured the public that they were coordinating with each other to solve the case and that there was no competition going on between the police and the NBI.
“We will be sending a formal request to NBI-7, inviting them for a case conference together with the police so we can finally identify the other suspects in the case,” said Ligan in Cebuano.
The police had earlier formed a special investigative task group to focus on the killing of Wee. /dbs
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