Cagayan police launch manhunt for two persons of interest in Fr Ventura killing
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- The Cagayan provincial police said they have launched a manhunt for two persons of interest who could possibly be the gunman in the murder of Fr. Mark Ventura.
In a press briefing on Monday, May 7, Senior Superintendent Warren Tolito, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) – Cagayan, said they have identified these persons based on the earlier released computerized facial composite of the gunman.
Tolito called for the press briefing on the same day Ventura was buried in Tuguegarao.
He said the lone gunman has a resemblance to murder suspects previously reported in the different areas in the Cagayan Valley region and the neighboring Cordillera region.
“Oo, 'yung isa is very much involve sa mga ganitong gawain, talagang gun for hire ‘yan. We’re doing our manhunt nga dito para malaman natin kung sino talaga ‘tong taong ito,” Tolito said.
(One is very much involved in activities like this. He really in a gun for hire. We're doing our manhunt to find out who really is this person.)
Tolito also released Monday the facial composite of the second suspect, also the driver of the group, based on the description of people on their exit route.
With the presence of the two facial sketches of the gunman and the driver, the police chief said they were now closely coordinating with other intelligence units in Northern Luzon.
“We need to reach out para lang ma-identify kung saan itong mga suspect na ito. I think some of our intelligence groups could identify kung saan itong mga grupo-grupong ito,” Tolito said.
(We need to reach out so we can find where these suspects are. I think intelligence groups could help identify where these groups are.)
The suspects, according to him, could be part of an organized crime group, turning into private armed groups (PAGs) during elections.
‘Family not cooperating’
Tolito admitted that the family of Fr. Ventura has yet to cooperate in the police investigation. The family at first refused to let police subject the cellular phones of Ventura into forensic examination.
Investigators have earlier ruled out possible involvement of rebels and miners, and the family of the student whom he sanctioned when he was a school director in Lal-lo, Cagayan.
On Monday, Tolito, who heads the Special Investigation Task Group-Ventura, said they are sticking into “serious personal grudges” as the possible motive in the brutal murder of the priest.
While they have now interrogated around 30 persons of interest, he said the family plays a “critical role” in the speedy resolution of the case.
“Still, personal issues pa rin ‘yung prevailing, ‘yung most probable reason... I think very important ‘yung sa family,” Tolito said, adding that Ventura could have told his family members his personal problems.
(Personal issues are the most probable reason. The help of the family is important.)
The police chief, however, said that the family could have opted not to engage with investigators yet because they are still in “state of mourning.”
“It could be we let Fr. Mark be buried first, bago natin sila balikan. I-explain natin sa kanila na this is the best way to give justice sa pagpatay kay Fr. Mark,” he added.
(We will get back to the family after Fr. Mark is buried. We will explain to them that this is the best way to give justice in the killing of Fr Mark.)
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