DAVAO, Philippines – The Army general who came forward to deny any hand in the December 29, 2022, murder of Davao City-based businesswoman and model Yvonette Chua Plaza has caught the attention of the police.
The Army officer, Brigadier General Jesus Durante III, would be invited by the police for questioning following his pronouncements this week about his close ties with the 38-year-old Plaza, his denial that he was responsible for her injuries months before her murder, and that he had anything to do with her brutal killing.
His move came in response to social media posts, accusing him of hurting Plaza and linking him to the murder of the woman he referred to as his “close friend.”
Durante, now the commander of the Davao de Oro-based 1001st Infantry Battalion, headed the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.
Police said Durante would be asked by investigators to shed light on the nature of his involvement with Plaza and allegations made against him, and his denial.
“Yes, this is going to be one of the tasks of police investigators,” Philippine National Police-Davao Region spokesperson Major Eudisan Gultiano told Rappler on Thursday, January 5.
She said Durante’s initial statements to the media have no bearing in the ongoing police investigation into the December 29 murder.
“We are not dependent on whatever statement has been given by whoever was implicated. We will base our investigation on hard facts and circumstantial evidence that we would be able to gather during the course of the investigation,” Gultiano said.
Gultiano, who was also designated as the spokesperson of the Special Investigation Task Group Yvonette, said investigators were on track, studying all angles, and considering all possible motivations such as personal grudges and robbery.
Police earlier said they had two “persons of interest” but they declined to name anyone.
The Army’s 10th Infantry Division, under which Durante’s battalion falls, said it would cooperate with police investigators who were looking into the killing of Plaza.
Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. said Durante himself has been advised to cooperate with the police, and that the military has started looking into the matter.
Plaza was attacked by two motorcycle-riding and helmet-wearing gunmen shortly after she stepped down from a Mitsubishi Montero near the gate of her rented house at Green Meadows subdivision in the village of Mintal in Davao’s Tugbok district, just two nights before New Year’s Eve. The fatal shooting was caught on CCTV camera.
Davao City Police Office director Senior Superintendent Alberto Lupaz earlier announced a P1-million reward for anyone who can provide information that can be used by the police to identify and catch Plaza’s killers. The reward, he said, was provided by “well-meaning citizens.” – Rappler.com