Cebu City police collars suspect in murder of Rhea Mae Tocmo
CEBU CITY, Philippines — A suspect in the murder of Reah Mae Tocmo has been arrested, Cebu City police confirmed on Monday, July 31.
The suspect, whom they identified as Roberto Hisman Gabison alias “Insik,” was collared in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City early morning on Sunday, July 30.
His arrest was made a few hours after the police also arrested Simeon Gabotero, who identified Gabison as the one who told him to sell Tocmo’s cellular phone.
Gabison is now detained at the custodial facility of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) while police continue to investigate Tocmo’s killing.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Janette Rafter, CCPO’s deputy director for operations, said they are yet to determine Gabison’s involvement in Tocmo’s murder and if he was working with several others in perpetrating the crime.
Gabotero, on the other hand, is now detained at the detention cell of the Labangon Police Station.
According to Rafter, Cabotero was first arrested by the police on Saturday, July 29, 2023, in Sitio Sampaguita in Banawa in Barangay Guadalupe for the possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Personnel of the Guadalupe and Labongon Police Stations were in the area then to gather CCTV footage that may help them solve Tocmo’s death and identify her attacker/s.
Rafter said that a concerned citizen approached the police at about 1 p.m. on Saturday to report the presence of an armed person in their area.
Authorities responded and arrested Cabotero for the possession of an unlicensed .22 caliber magnum revolver with four live ammunitions.
During his arrest, police recognized Cabotero as the man whose face was shown in a photo that the CCPO posted on its official Facebook page as a person of interest in Tocmo’s murder.
The photo was grabbed from the CCTV footage that was earlier secured by the police.
“Nakita nato nga mao gyud diay siya. Siya gyud kay ang pinaka identifying marks ato niya is the scar [on his face]. Tinuod nga siya gyud ang mao gyud nga taw and he was also positively identified sa katong nipaplit sa cellphone,” Rafter said.
Cabotero identified Gabison
During their investigation, police asked Gabison about the CCTV footage. He later on admitted that he was the one who sold Tocmo’s phone. He identified as certain “Insik” as the one who asked him to make the sale last July 16, Rafter said.
Rafter added that Cabotero also claimed that Gabison was the last person he saw with Tocmo. But Rafter did not elaborate.
At around 7:45 a.m. of the next day or on Sunday, July 30, police arrested Gabison in a buy-bust operation in Sitio Kabulakan in Barangay Guadalupe.
When the police learned that Gabison was known in their area by his alias, Insik, they then asked Cabotero if he was the same man who directed him to sell Tocmo’s phone.
Rafter said they showed Cabotero a photo of Gabison and he confirmed that the man on the photo was “Insik.”
He pawned a different cellphone
In an interview with reporters, Gabisaon denied knowing Cabotero. He said that he never asked Cabotero to sell a cellphone on his behalf.
“Wala ko kaila ana [ni Cabotero],” he repeatedly said.
Gabison also denied any involvement in Tocmo’s death. He said that he only heard about Tocmo from media reports.
However, he admitted that he had a phone which he pawned because he needed cash to pay the rent of the bedspace that he occupies with his common-law partner. But he said owned the cellphone that was pawned.
Gabison claimed having asked a man, whom he identified as Epoy Cañete, to bring the cellphone to a pawnshop in Barangay Tabunok in Talisay City.
He said that his wife has possession of the pawnshop’s receipt.
Rafter said that they will continue to look into Tocmo’s case.
They are yet to determine how and why Gabison gold hold of Tocmo’s cellphone. They also wanted to find out why and how Tocmo was killed.
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