crimes in the Philippines

Stolen phone, drug bust lead to arrest of suspects in Cebu student murder

John Sitchon

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Stolen phone, drug bust lead to arrest of suspects in Cebu student murder


One of the suspects reportedly sold the phone of slain Davao del Norte student Rhea Mae Tocmo

CEBU, Philippine – Cebu City police said on Tuesday, August 1, that they have in their custody two people allegedly linked to the murder of Davao del Norte student Rhea Mae Tocmo.

“We have persons already whom we suspect have something to do with the crime,” Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Deputy Director for Operations Police Lieutenant Colonel Janet Rafter told Rappler in an interview on Tuesday.

Rafter said one of the men, identified as Simeon Cabotero, was arrested in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, on Saturday, July 29, for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

She said that police acted on the report of a concerned resident who alerted them about the presence of an armed civilian in the area, leading to the arrest of Cabotero, who was found with an unlicensed .22 caliber revolver with live ammunition.

Police also found that Cabotero matched the profile of a person of interest (POI) related to Tocmo’s murder.

The image of the suspect, which Cebu City police posted on their Facebook page on July 27, was taken from CCTV footage from business establishments in an area near the Carbon Public Market. Police said that they retrieved the image after a concerned citizen informed them about buying a phone Cabotero, which turned out to be Tocmo’s phone.

“Mao diay to siya to nga tawo nga among gipangita nga katong namaligya sa cellphone ni Rhea Mae Tocmo last July 16, 2023,” Rafter added. (That man really turned out to be the person we were looking for who sold Rhea Mae Tocmo’s cellphone last July 16, 2023.)

When asked about his involvement in Tocmo’s murder, Cabotero said that he was merely tasked by another person to unlock the phone or sell it if Cabotero could not have it opened.

This person was identified as Roberto Gabison who was arrested on Sunday, July 30, during a drug bust operation in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.

Gabison denied knowing Cabotero and claimed me was not involved Tocmo’s murder. Raffer said, however, that Gabison was last seen with the victim.

“Naa gyud siyay kalabutan gyud sa krimen kay he was the last one nga nakita nga buhi ang biktima and siya pud naghatag sa cellphone to this certain Cabotero,” Rafter said. (He really has involvement to the crime because he was the last one seen with the victim when she was alive and he also gave the cellphone to this certain Cabotero.)

Cabotero is detained at Police Station 10 in Barangay Labangon, while Gabison is detained at the CCPO headquarters.

Rafter said that police are still gathering more evidence before giving statements on possible motives for the crime and other details on the murder.

She also thanked the residents who cooperated with the investigation and urged individuals with information on Tocmo’s case to come forward and talk to the police. –

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