“Hinanap po namin kaagad si Yuson kasi siya ang may warrant of arrest, so dahil dati rin po siyang kwan, ex-military rin po siya, assigned in I think in the Bicol region (We looked for Yuson immediately because he had a warrant of arrest, it is also because he was an ex-military man assigned, I think, in the Bicol Region),” CIDG director Chief Superintendent Amador Corpus said in an interview with reporters.
Yuson is one of 7 suspects facing double murder and multiple frustrated murder complaints from the PNP and the Batocabe family for the congressman's killing on December 22, 2018. (READ: PNP tags Daraga mayor as 'mastermind' in Batocabe slay)
In the PNP’s referral-complaint filed before the Albay Provincial Prosecutor’s Office accessed by Rappler, Yuson was identified as bearing the alias “Romel Yuson” and was described as a “former member of the Philippine Army and CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit).”
He had a standing arrest warrant for a rape case.
Surrender explained: Owing to his supposed links with the Army, Corpus said Yuson preferred to first surrender to military men in Sorsogon on Thursday before he went with cops for questioning.
The PNP first reported that Yuson was a former New People’s Army (NPA) rebel. But Corpus said that was not the entire story.
Yuson was a rebel returnee, then served as a militiaman under CAFGU, and proceeded to serve in the army.
The PNP was not yet certain on the particular unit Yuson served in the army. Corpus said the PNP Intelligence Group was checking military records for Yuson’s background.
Corpus said Yuson was "discharged" from the army before he allegedly turned to crime.
More military links? Two other suspects in the killing stood out because of their possible links to the military:
At a press conference on Thursday, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the police would explore further whether the hit team was part of a bigger organization.
Albayalde said politicians' practice of employing former military men was not uncommon.
"What we know is itong mga ito (they) are working in Bicol Region. They are ex-military. Alam mo na (You know) sometimes, unscrupulous politicians always hire 'yung mga ganun (people like them) as their security. So this is one example of that," Albayalde said in a mix of English and Filipino.– Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.