Tarlac

Land dispute seen as motive in killing of beauty queen, Israeli partner

Joann Manabat

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Land dispute seen as motive in killing of beauty queen, Israeli partner

SUSPECTS. Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos presents two former policemen involved in the killing of beauty queen Geneva Lopez and her Israeli partner Yitshak Cohen in a press briefing at Camp Crame on July 8, 2024.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Major General Leo Francisco, PNP-CIDG director, says beauty queen Geneva Lopez and her Israeli partner, Yitzhak Cohen, were possibly shot by two former policemen over a botched land transaction

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Police are looking at a land dispute as the possible motive in the killing of beauty queen Geneva Lopez and her Israeli partner, Yitzhak Cohen, after authorities accused three individuals of murder, during a press conference Monday, July 8, at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Major General Leo Francisco, PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director, said Lopez and Cohen were shot and killed by two former policemen, Michael Guiang and Rommel Abuzo, possibly over a botched land transaction. 

Police identified a third suspect as a certain civilian named Jeffrey Santos.

Francisco said a dispute over a piece of land owned by Guiang which he mortgaged to Lopez could be the primary motive for the killings. However, when Guiang wanted to take back the land he pawned, Francisco said, Lopez refused to give it back.

Guiang claimed to have found a buyer for the property. He was going to introduce Abuzo as the prospective buyer in a meet-up set in Barangay Armenia in Tarlac City. The couple were allleged killed by Guiang and Abuzo in that encounter.

Ayaw ibigay ni Guiang yung isinanglang lupa kay Geneva (Guiang wanted to take back the land he mortgaged to Lopez) ,” said Francisco.

Ang nakikita natin dito ang dalawang dating pulis ang nagplano dito. Siya (Guiang) ang main suspect at si Abuso ang ka-buddy niya dahil silang dalawa ang bumaril sa victims (What were are seeing is that the two ex-cops planned this. Guiang is the main suspect and Abuzo is his buddy because they were the ones who shot the victims,” said Francisco.

Two individuals, aliases “Junjun” and “Dondon,” have surrendered to authorities in connection with the case. Two more remain at large. A total of seven persons of interest are linked to the deaths of Lopez and Cohen.

Francisco said they will be filing complaints for two counts of murder against the suspects Guiang, Abuzo, and the others .

“We are collating some more evidence and statements because we are sure that the killing of this couple started with this motive.”

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said Guiang and Abuso were dismissed for absence without leave in 2020 and 2019, respectively. The three suspects are in police custody for another case, he said.

Lopez and Cohen’s body were found in Santa Lucia, Capas, Tarlac on July 6. Their remains have been identified by the members of their family. A DNA test is also set to confirm the identities of the victims. – Rappler.com 

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