Matugas slay try could be politically motivated; cop in ‘hot water’ for ‘taking’ cellphone

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/18 August 2012) – Police investigators have not discounted the possibility that Monday’s shooting of Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas was politically motivated, Supt. Ruben Andiso, deputy provincial police director, said.

Andiso stressed that investigations have not been completed.

As this developed, he said Thursday that Police Officer 2 Godfrey Reyna is still “not off the hook” for allegedly taking the cellular phone of Samuel G. Lapac, the gunman in the slay try on the governor.

Reyna, who was the first police officer to respond to the crime scene, has been put in the spotlight after reports surfaced that he took the Cherry Mobile phone of Lapac, who was injured when the governor’s bodyguards fired back on him.

First District Rep. Francisco T. Matugas, the governor’s husband, asked authorities to look into Reyna, who, the congressman said, is a former security aide of a deceased prominent political figure.

Rep. Matugas questioned why Reyna, a police officer assigned at the Regional Training Center in Barangay Lipata, was the first to respond to the incident when the center is far away.

“He was just there at the right time and at the right place [?]” the solon was quoted as saying during Tuesday’s press conference held at the Governor’s Mansion at the capitol here.

Lipata is estimated to be four to five kilometers from the capitol if passed through the Sabang route, and at least a kilometer if using the old route passing Barangay Rizal to Lipata.

It can be reached for about 15 to 20 minutes when riding a public transport but will only take 10 minutes using a private car or a motorbike.

Andiso said the cellular phone of the suspect has been turned over to the City Prosecutor’s Office as additional evidence.

Andiso, head of the Special Investigation Task Group created on Monday, said that Reyna is known among his peers as an “on-the-go” cop who is almost always the first to respond to crime scenes because he carries his own radio and owns a 200DTS motorbike.

So far, what we have gathered is that he was there because he is a policeman, he added.

Andiso said Reyna already issued a statement to the police explaining his presence and the cellphone controversy, but other contents of the statement including his supposed “connection” with the deceased political figure will still be further verified.

In a radio interview Thursday, Reyna objected to reports linking him to Lapac, noting he was just performing his job to respond to a crime scene. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)