Cebu City

Cebu police to create special investigation unit to probe killing of human rights lawyer

John Sitchon
Cebu police to create special investigation unit to probe killing of human rights lawyer

SOCO. Lawyer Rex Fernandez was riding a grey Toyota Camry when he was shot dead.

John Sitchon

(1st UPDATE) Police have yet to confirm the motive behind the killing of Rex Fernandez

The Guadalupe police station is set to create a special investigation task group (SITG) to look into the killing of human rights lawyer Rex Fernandez, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Josefino Ligan said in a live press conference on Friday, August 27.

“I have directed already the station commander to request for the creation of SITG on Fernandez,” said Ligan.

On Thursday, August 26, Fernandez, 64, was shot dead by an unidentified assailant along Salvador Street, in Sitio Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe. This makes him the third lawyer killed in Cebu in less than a year. 

According to the city police director, they have already procured a copy of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) recording that showed the gunman who was wearing a red jacket. 

In the recording, the gunman was shown sporting a red jacket and wore a facemask. Ligan said they will be able to identify the assailant based on his height and color of his skin, and match that with their existing rogues’ gallery.

Ligan added there was allegedly one more survivor from the ambush besides the driver, Darvie Pondar. 

According to him, there was a woman who sat in the back seat of Fernandez’s car whose identity is yet to be confirmed by the investigators.

Additionally, at least six empty shells of a .45 caliber pistol were found at the crime scene.

Police have yet to confirm the motive behind the killing of Fernandez

Sa magnitude sa iyahang trabaho (based on the magnitude of his work), it is likely [work-related] but we are still looking at it from a personal angle,” Ligan said.

“Possibly, it was a gun for hire – it’s likely. Based on how many minutes he was able to burst four shots just like that, just fast. An ordinary killer would most likely lose his grip on his firearm on the first shot,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Ligan said the SITG will be made up primarily of members of the Guadalupe police station, with him as the SITG commander, the Deputy Regional Director for Operations (DRDO) as SITG supervisor, and officers from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Cebu City Police Office Intelligence Unit (CCPO-CIU), Regional Investigation Unit (RIU), and the medico-legal officers from their crime laboratory serving as well.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its “own investigation and case build-up” on the killing of Fernandez.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told NBI Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor to “submit reports on the progress of the subject investigation directly to the Office of the Secretary within ten days and periodically thereafter.”

The justice department also said that NBI may file appropriate charges if evidence warrants against “all persons involved and found responsible for any unlawful act” connected to Fernandez’s death. – with reports from Art Lubiano/Rappler.com

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