KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 13 Oct) — Mayor Joseph Evangelista on Friday handed over the P100,000 reward money to three witnesses whose testimonies led to the arrest of the primary suspect in the killing last month of a 21-year old woman.
Two of the three witnesses are minors.
Each of the three received P33,333.33 from Evangelista after they were presented to the media during an hour-long press conference at the Mayor’s Office.
The minors were represented by their parents who wore bonnets to protect their identities.
The mayor said he is convinced of the testimonies made by the minors.
“Kahit ano’ng bali-baliktad mo sa mga tanong, ‘di nagbabago ang kanilang mga statement,” he said.
In their affidavits, the minors said they saw Angelica Fernandez Luzuriaga ride a tricycle driven by a certain Fernando Esbino, on September 21, around 12:20 a.m., heading towards Purok-7, Barangay Lanao where the victim was temporarily residing.
Superintendent Ramel Hojilla of the Kidapawan City police identified Esbino as the suspect.
Esbino works as security guard of Dole Stanfilco’s banana plantation located at Barangay Meohaw, this city.
A murder complaint was filed against him at the City Prosecution on Thursday morning.
Hojilla said that a few hours later, Esbino, who was driving a passenger tricycle, was intercepted during a highway inspection in Barangay Sudapin, carrying a fragmentation grenade.
Esbino was immediately placed inside the lockup cell of the Kidapawan City police not because of his alleged involvement in Luzuriaga’s murder, but due to the recovery of an explosive inside his tricycle.
The murder of Luzuriaga, according to police reports, took place few minutes after the victim arrived at her house on September 21.
Her body, however, was discovered around 7:20 p.m., on September 22.
Luzuriaga, based on the findings of the Cotabato Police Crime Laboratory, bore several hack wounds, which caused her instantaneous death.
Investigators also recovered a cloth placed inside the victim’s private part. Police investigations said she may have been raped. Findings of the Crime Lab showed there was no sign of penetration.
Relatives of Esbino cried foul over the arrest of their kin.
A relative presented to the media a photocopy of the logbook of Dole Stanfilco which showed the suspect was in his post from 6 p.m., of September 21, until 6 a.m., of September 22.
His mother-in-law also told media that Esbino was tortured by investigators. She said Esbino was innocent and had no reason to kill Luzuriaga because the girl and her family are close to them.
“Umiiyak siya sa amin. Sabi niya, kahit patayin pa siya ng mga pulis wala siya’ng aaminin dahil ‘di naman daw siya ang gumawa no’n,” said the mother-in-law.
Esbino’s family is bent on filing countercharges against the police. They claimed the explosive recovered from Esbino’s tricycle was planted just to pin him down.
But police and Mayor Evangelista told them Esbino should explain in court. “As of this time, we consider Luzuriaga’s murder case closed with the arrest of the primary suspect,” the mayor said. (Malu Cadelina – Manar / MindaNews)