DAVAO, Philippines – Police identified former Presidential Security Group (PSG) head Brigadier General Jesus Durante III as the alleged brains behind the December 29, 2022 murder of Davao-based businesswoman-model Yvonette Chua Plaza.
Police also identified an Army colonel, five other soldiers, and a civilian as alleged accomplices.
Authorities also revealed that the gun used in killing Plaza was a military-issued firearm.
“It was a crime of passion,” said Brigadier General Benjamin Silo Jr., the director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Davao Region during a news conference on Wednesday, January 25.
PNP-Davao Region and Special Task Group Plaza spokesperson Major Eudisan Gultiano identified the following suspects:
- Colonel Michael Licyayo
- Staff Sergeant Gilbert Plaza
- Sergeant Delfin Sialsa Jr.
- Corporal Adrian Cachero
- Private 1st class Rolly Cabal
- Private 1st class Romart Longakit
- civilian and military man Friday Noel H. Japitan
(Editor’s note: We updated this list to correct misspelled surnames, and ranks based on the actual complaint filed by the PNP.)
There were two John Does – one referred to only as Master Sergeant and another called Junior.
Silo said the investigation showed that Plaza had sensitive information against Durante, and had planned to use it to blackmail the Army general.
He said Durante and Plaza had an affair based on the pieces of evidence investigators gathered, and witnesses spoke of jealousy, “but we are looking into other factors that might have led to this senseless killing.”
Silo said there was “clarity of circumstances,” and an extra-judicial confession.
“These interlocked… We have a very strong case against the mastermind,” he said.
Three of the suspects – Corporal Cashero, Sergeant Sialsa, and civilian Hapitan – executed extra-judicial confessions, according to Gultiano.
The attack on Plaza, which was caught on CCTV camera, was carried out by two motorcycle-riding and helmet-wearing gunmen near her rented home at Green Meadows subdivision in Mintal in Davao City’s Tugbok District, just two nights before New Year’s Eve.
Durante, who served as the head of the group that secured former president Rodrigo Duterte, has been relieved from his post as commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade based in Davao de Oro province.
Brigadier General Allan Hambala, assistant commander of the 10th Infantry Division, said the soldiers linked to the grisly murder had been relieved of their posts and were in the custody of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.
Hambala assured the police that the Army will fully cooperate.
“Whatever crime they may have committed, they will have to face it,” Hambala said.
Durante earlier caught the attention of police investigators after he responded to allegations about his involvement that went the rounds of social media. He came forward to strongly deny that he had anything to do with the Plaza murder.
But he revealed that he and Plaza were “close friends,” and that he was saddened to learn about her brutal killing.
Durante also denied allegations that he hurt her months before the murder, asserting that Plaza retracted a statement that the Army general was responsible for her facial injuries. – Rappler.com