AFTER declining to publicize updates on the investigation, authorities revealed that arrested architect Rey Galua has been all along the primary "person of interest" (POI) in the December 2, 2017 killing of university president Dr. Ricardo Rotoras.
But a police said they have yet to establish concrete links between Galua and the alleged gun-for-hire Johnreal Gamanay who was arrested in Makati City last month.
Because of this, Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa II, spokesperson of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Rotoras, said Galua, though considered to be the first among four persons of interest in the Rotoras case, still cannot be considered a suspect in the Rotoras murder.
Hortillosa said Galua, who was arrested over firearms and explosives-related charges, is nevertheless the top POI because of a reported personal conflict between Galua and the slain president of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP).
"Siya ang pinaka-top sa POI gumikan kay close sila unya nagbangi (He is the top POI because he allegedly quarreled with Rotoras)," Hortillosa said.
The police official said they are still waiting to see whether Gamanay would tag the architect as the mastermind.
Hortillosa said Gamanay has already been identified as the gunman in the Rotoras killing by the sole witness.
The said witness also consistently pointed to Gamanay as the suspect when they met face to face at the Laguindingan airport.
"Consistent ang witness gikan sa pagpakita sa picture ug sa face-to-face nila nga encounter sa airport (The witness was consistent from identifying him through his picture to meeting him at the airport)," Hortillosa said.
Gamanay was charged for the Rotoras murder before the City Prosecutor's Office last February 2.
Meanwhile, lawyer Arturo Ubaub said they expect authorities to establish a connection between Galua and the Ozamiz City-based hitman.
“But we are ready to face it,” said Ubaub, who reiterated that charges of illegal possession of guns and explosives against his client Galua were all fabricated.
Ubaub said the charges were just made up by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to keep Galua in jail, as they prepare to charge him finally of murder.
"We are ready to face it. Kanang ilang sulti diha muingon sila nga prime suspect kay ila nang i-tie up kanang killer diha kang Galua, expected na, ako na giingnan si Rey nga mag-prepare na ana nga scenario," he said.
Police said the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Rotoras is investigating gunman Johnreal Gamanay's link to Galua labeled as the "prime person of interest" behind the killing of Rotoras.
Ubaub said Friday that he submitted his appeal to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop the guns and explosive charges against Galua, calling the basis of the search warrant issued by a court in Gingoog City as "another lie."
"When they applied for the search warrant, they put as basis that the CIDG met with Galua on December 7 in Pueblo Clubhouse, but we got proof that Galua was in Manila at the time," Ubaub said.
Galua allegedly invited the CIDG personnel to his house and showed them M14 and M16 guns and explosives he owns.
But on December 7, Ubaub said Galua was in Manila for an event.
"He has an airplane ticket showing he was in Manila at that time," he said.
Ubaub said he hopes the DOJ will reverse the fiscal resolution and drop the charges.
Ubaub said they are also waiting for the court resolution that will allow Galua to stay further at the hospital for his treatment from a heart condition and defer his transfer to Lumbia City Jail.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 10, 2018.