Cebu City

NBI arrests ex-PDEA director for Cebu lawyer ambush

Ryan Macasero

INVESTIGATORS. The National Bureau of Investigation office in Manila.

File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Former PDEA regional director Edwin Layese is arrested for allegedly 'supervising' the daylight ambush of Cebu lawyer Joey Luis Wee

National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) announced the arrest of ex-Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Eastern Visayas director Edwin Layese in Cebu City on Monday, January 18. 

He was arrested last January 13 by agents of the NBI’s Central Visayas office for allegedly “supervising” the daylight ambush of lawyer Joey Luis Wee, who was shot dead at his Cebu City office on November 23, 2020.

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NBI-7 Director Renan Oliva confirmed the arrest in a text message to Rappler.

He said separately during a press conference with local media that the suspect was a former director of the drug enforcement agency’s Eastern Visayas regional office and a retired Philippine Army colonel who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1994. 

“We have documentary, electronic, and testimonial evidence to show that Edwin Layese is involved in the said killing, not only as a participant, but as the supervisor in the case of Attorney Wee,” Oliva told reporters. 

He was among several captured by CCTV at the building where Wee’s office is located in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City. 

According to a report in The Freeman, Layese was sacked from his post with PDEA in 2012 for failing to meet civil service requirements. 

According to Oliva, Layese is also suspected of involvement in the attempted murder of another lawyer, James Gupana, who survived an ambush attempt in Lapu-Lapu City in October 2020.

The Central Visayas NBI director clarified, however, that Layese was not the suspected mastermind, but allegedly helped recruit and plan logistics of the contract killers to execute Wee.

“He was the contractor, the one who was hired to do the planning and execution of the killing,” Oliva said. 

Layese is the second suspect arrested in the murder of Wee, while several other suspects and the mastermind are still at-large. 

One of the gunmen, Benigno Peralta, was arrested in an NBI operation in Laguna last December 9. (READ: NBI arrests suspect in killing of Cebu lawyer Joey Luis Wee)

Wee is the 53rd out of 55 judges, lawyers, or prosecutors killed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Rappler’s running list.

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Out of the 55, only 5 of those killings have reached the courts. – Rappler.com

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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at ryan.macasero@rappler.com