Authorities have already identified a “person of interest” (POI) in the twin killings of newspaper columnist Jupiter Gonzales and his companion in Arayat, Pampanga, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) announced recently.

PTFoMS executive director, Undersecretary Joel Egco, said his office has sufficient evidence against the suspected killer of Gonzales and his companion, Christopher Tiongson.

“Gonzales knew his killer. In fact, the gunman first boarded the left backseat of the victim’s car.”

“Our initial investigation showed that Gonzales knew his killer. In fact, the gunman first boarded the left backseat of the victim’s car and presumably spoke with the victims,” Sy Egco said.

“A CCTV footage shows that the gunman stepped out of the vehicle after about four minutes and opened the driver side in an apparent attempt to commandeer the vehicle. However, Gonzales was still able to drive 50 meters away until he hit a flowerbox,” the Sy Egco added.

Gonzales was driving his Nissan Almera with Tiongson when the assailant shot them in Catucud village in Arayat, Pampanga around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tiongson was killed on the spot, while Gonzales died while being rushed to the Arayat District Hospital.

Sy Egco noted that the suspected killer had a “very strong” motive to kill Gonzales, based on the initial results of the investigation.

“Initial probe showed the reason behind the murder was not related to media work at all.”

He refused to disclose the identity of the lone gunman, but added that results of an initial probe show that the killings were “not related to media work at all.”

Gonzales, who wrote a column for the tabloid Remate, was a known staunch critic of illegal gambling in local “peryahans” or carnivals.

Sy Egco said the identities of the persons who are allegedly behind the deaths of Gonzales and Tiongson will be revealed after the filing of criminal charges.

“We are now following up a very strong lead. Fact is, we now have a POI (person of interest) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Central Luzon and the Arayat police are now in the process of building up an airtight case,” he said.

The PTFoMS is currently conducting an investigation on the twin killings.

The PTFoMS’ fact-finding body found that Tiongson could have been shot first in the head and died instantly, while Gonzales, although initially wounded, was “finished” while attempting to flee.

Sy Egco said he, Arayat Police chief Lieutenant Colonel Dale Soliba, and other investigators have raised the possibility that the suspected gunman and the victims argued during the shooter’s four-minute stay in the car’s backseat.

“Probers believe the victims were shot at pointblank range inside the vehicle,” Sy Egco said.

“I watched a CCTV footage where the car of the victims and the gunman are clearly seen. Since the scene of the crime is just a few meters away from the local carnival, or peryahan, and at a busy intersection, there were many people who witnessed the incident up to the time when the gunman took off on a commandeered motorcycle,” he added.

Sy Egco said the charges would be filed against the alleged suspect “in the next few days,” after thorough follow-up investigations by the police.

He vowed that the killer of Gonzales and Tiongson will be brought to justice. 


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