No FBI in Makati murder probe

The US government is working with local authorities on the murder of a US Marine and spouse of a diplomat in Makati but the FBI is not conducting its own probe

Carlos Santamaria
Updated 8:33 PM, Nov 28, 2012

SUSPECTS. From left to right and top to bottom: Galicano Datu III, Crispin de la Cruz, Juan Alfonso Abastillas and Osric Cabrera. Collage by Emil Mercado from images courtesy of Makati policeSUSPECTS. From left to right and top to bottom: Galicano Datu III, Crispin de la Cruz, Juan Alfonso Abastillas and Osric Cabrera. Collage by Emil Mercado from images courtesy of Makati police

MANILA, Philippines - Neither the US Embassy nor the FBI are conducting a parallel investigation of the killing of an American citizen and husband of a diplomat in Makati, police said on Wednesday, November 27.

"There is no FBI", Makati police chief Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban told Rappler.

Lukban explained that two officials from the US Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) have traveled to the Philippines to gather information which they will use to write a report for the State Department.

"They are not part of the FBI, they come from the DSS. They are the ones who usually assist in cases with other diplomats, especially in cases like this (…) They are the ones responsible to assist, and likewise to see the real story behind the death," the police chief added.

In this case, the victim was an active service US Marine who was married to an employee of the US Embassy in Manila and therefore enjoyed the status of dependent of a diplomat.

No separate investigation

Lukban insisted that the US government is not carrying out a probe at all, and pointed out they would not be able to do so anyway under Philippine law as the charges have already been filed against the suspects.

The Makati police chief -- himself a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia -- stressed that American federal agents have never investigated on their own in the Philippines and have an excellent relationship with all branches of the Philippine National Police.

When the FBI wants to arrest a US citizen, it seeks assistance from the local authorities, and always limits its role to offering assistance on technical processing of evidence, according to Lukban.

Lukban revealed the DSS officials requested to meet Jose Rommel Saavedra, the Rockwell security guard who witnessed the stabbing incident on Saturday morning and has been criticized in some forums for not drawing his weapon on the assailants.

Saavedra was initially harassed by the victim before the American encountered the vehicle carrying the suspects and a fistfight broke out between them that ended with Anikow stabbed to death.

The security guard made the "right decision" by not pulling out his shotgun and calling for backup to arrest the occupants of the Volvo SUV when they tried to flee the scene of the crime, Lukban said.

Father of suspect banned from Rockwell

Saavedra is employed by the Rockwell security service, the same agency that in March 2011 recommended the Rockwell Land Corp development group to ban Dr. Jose Cabrera from the village after a string of complaints of abusive and violent behavior were filed against him by the residents.

Dr. Cabrera is the father of 27-year-old businessman Osric Cabrera, one of the 4 suspects charged with murder alongside businessmen Juan Alfonso Abastillas, 24; Crispin de la Paz, 28; and 4th-year De la Salle University student Galicano Datu III, 22.

All 4 remain locked up in the Makati police headquarters on murder charges, a non-bailable offense.

According to the land developer, Dr. Cabrera was declared persona non grata for carrying firearms in full view of the public, walking around the village surrounded by bodyguards armed to the teeth and harassing and bullying residents.

Cabrera however told Rappler that he was only trying to protect himself and that the Rockwell owners bullied him into being banned from the area despite his daughter owning a condo unit there.

Dr. Cabrera, owner of a kidney dyalisis center in Makati, claimed his son is innocent of murder. - Rappler.com

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