Rolly Mahilum, the main suspect in the murder of DXBF Prime Broadcasting Network operations manager and anchor Christopher “Chris Rapido” Lozada in October 2017 has been arrested by the Surigao Del Sur Police Provincial Office.
A report sent to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Secretariat in Malacañang said Mahilum was arrested on March 23, 2020, at about 8:00 p.m., at P-2, Barangay San Vicente 2, Tagbina in a joint operation led by Bislig City Police chief Lt.Col. Wilson Corpus and Lt. Col. Gil Tisado Torralba.
“Even at this time of national emergency, our law enforcers are still relentlessly pursuing suspects in cases of violence against media workers.”
Earlier, warrants of arrest were issued against Mahilum by Judge Merlyn B. Pacaro-Canedo of the Bislig City Regional Trial Court Branch 29 under Criminal Case nos. 2020-205973 to 74-B for the murder of Lozada and the frustrated murder of Honey Faith Toyco, who was with Lozada during the October 24, 2017 shooting.
“Even at this time of national emergency, our law enforcers are still relentlessly pursuing suspects in cases of violence against media workers. We commend the continuing efforts of the Philippine National Police in bringing to justice these fugitives from the law,” PTFoMS Co-Chair and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said.
Meanwhile, PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco was elated, saying the continued monitoring of all media killings by the PTFoMS are now reaping more arrests and convictions of suspects.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our partner in the Task Force, the PNP, did not allow this national state of calamity to hamper its efforts in effecting the arrest of Mahilum.”
“PTFoMS never sleeps on its job. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our partner in the Task Force, the PNP, did not allow this national state of calamity to hamper its efforts in effecting the arrest of Mahilum,” Sy Egco said.
It can be recalled that Mahilum’s Motion for Reconsideration was denied by Surigao City Acting Prosecutor Joan Francis Alas-Esmero who found “no cogent reason to reverse her resolution finding probable cause for the indictment of respondent for murder and frustrated murder.”
Esmero, who handled the preliminary investigation of the case, said in a resolution dated January 13, 2020 that the evidence submitted against Mahilum was sufficient.
Mahilum was positively identified by Toyco. Toyco said she and Mahilum were on their way home when a vehicle tailing them suddenly bumped their car. The alleged gunman opened fire at Lozada with three successive gunshots. Toyco was seriously wounded and is now under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice.
Sy Egco said the PTFoMS will see to it that Lozada’s killers will be brought to justice.
He added that the PTFoMS, as always, will continue to monitor and inform the public of developments on media killings cases and threats against media workers.