Duterte had copies of his 13-paragraph press statement distributed at the start of a press conference he called at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 26) but which started at 2 p.m. with him announcing he would not answer questions about police matters as he would leave it to them to answer.
He also dismissed allegations he had anything to do with Lintuan’s killing. “Mr. Lintuan has been criticizing me since 1988, and I have respected him for his views. It is the height of stupidity for me to do harm on him hours after he aired his criticism on the People’s Park. Clearly there are unseen groups at work that (have) set up a scenario wherein City Hall is to be blamed for the killing of a journalist.”
“Bat mo papatayin yung journalist na tumutulong sa iyo?” (Why kill a journalist who is helping you), Duterte asked, adding, Lintuan should be rewarded, if it is proven that the park project is, indeed, tainted with corruption.
He said he has asked the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit to initiate an investigation on the alleged overprice in the project. “And if they see anything overpriced by 10 pesos, I will resign and swear not to run for office again,” Duterte’s press statement read.
“My reputation for respecting journalists is as spotless as my graft-free record in my 17 years in office,” he said.
Duterte told reporters at the D’Azure room at the Grand Men Seng hotel that he believes the killing of the 52-year old Lintuan was “stage-managed” in a way that he or City Hall would be blamed.
He said it was no secret that Lintuan had no kind words for him and that the latter was “with (former mayor Zafiro) Respicio, (former mayor Benjamin) de Guzman and with a certain politician” whom he did not name.
“Sino ang naglaglag sa kanya (Who dropped Lintuan) and why is it that (Jovito) Palparan, a retired general, is working for a certain congressman?” Duterte asked.
Palparan, a controversial general, was earlier named by militant organizations as the “Butcher of Mindoro.” Wherever Palparan was assigned, the militant groups alleged, killings were not far behind.
Duterte said the information was relied to him by two generals whom he did not name and who have reportedly warned Palparan not to operate in the city.
Duterte did not name the congressman who hired Palparan but was obviously referring to Davao City 1st district Rep. Prospero Nograles with whom he had a word war recently.
Nograles earlier ran for mayor against Duterte but lost by 112,000 votes. Both Nograles and Duterte are completing their third term in office.
Nograles, however, denied having hired Palparan. “I hardly know the guy. I have had no military consultants in my entire stint – five terms in Congress. That’s not my style,” he told MindaNews.
Duterte was implicated in Lintuan’s murder following reports that among Lintuan’s topics prior to his death were on the alleged anomalies in the construction of the People’s Park and that Lintuan’s killing, by a motorcycle-riding gunman with a look-out, was similar to the style of the “Davao Death Squad” (DDS), a vigilante group blamed for several murders here.
The DDS has been linked to Duterte but he has repeatedly denied any link with it.
Duterte has offered half a million pesos reward money for the “immediate capture and arrest of the suspects” in the killing of Lintuan.
Nograles told MindaNews he read a Philippine Star report that the mayor offered half a million “so I matched it with another P500,000 to make it a million.”
Duterte vowed to shoulder “all the necessary expenses and other needs of the family of Mr. Lintuan” if Lintuan’s sons would accept the help.
Lintuan left behind four sons, now orphans, having lost their mother to cancer two years ago.
Nograles told reporters Christmas night outside the Cosmopolitian Funeral Parlor that he was going to discuss scholarship plans with the guardians of Lintuan’s children.
A blocktimer at radio station DXGO, Lintuan was gunned down at around 9:40 a.m. on December 24, as he was driving his green Volkswagen car outside the radio station with two colleagues along Duterte street corner of R. Castillo Avenue.
Nograles said the murder of Lintuan can be solved by the police “if it wants to.”
He said the police has so many intelligence assets who could help them solve the case.
The Philippine National Police on Wednesday noon released copies of the artist’s sketch of the suspect who is about 35 years old, is 5’7” or 5’8” tall, is fair-skinned, of muscular built and weighs around 75 kilograms. The man was wearing a “metallic helmet” and was on board a red XRM motorcycle with no plate number.
The NBI is a member of the newly-organized “Task Force Batman,” a composite team looking into Lintuan’s murder.
“Batman” is the radio nickname of Lintuan, but that is not in reference to the comic/movie character. “Batman” is short for “Batang Mandaya” or Mandaya child, as Lintuan was a member of the Mandaya, a tribe in Davao Oriental. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)