‘No tampering done’-A A +A
Friday, March 11, 2011
WE DID not tamper with the license plate. Sr. Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, spokesman of Task Force Ellah Joy, yesterday issued the denial and said the accusation against the police was “unfair.”
The police investigating the kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Ellah Joy Pique last Feb. 8 have been accused of changing a letter in the license plate of the Pajero, the sports utility vehicle that the perpetrators allegedly used in the commission of the crime.
The Pajero supposedly bears the plate LMJ 382 but the letter “M” was scratched to make it look like letter “H” when viewed from afar.
“We have everything to lose (if we did that),” Comendador said. “It’s unfair to accuse the police.”
The Pajero remains in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7, as the police had requested from Regional Trial Court Judge Meinrado Paredes.
As ordered by Paredes, the CIDG 7 turned over to the court yesterday all the other items they had seized from the house of a woman, who owns the Pajero, in Barangay Inayagan, Naga City, for safekeeping.
Paredes has granted the request of CIDG 7 to retain custody of the vehicle, saying the Palace of Justice has no place to keep it.
(Sun.Star Cebu erroneously reported yesterday that Paredes had ordered the return of the vehicle to its owner. Our apologies.—Editor)
Among the seized items now with the court are a bed sheet with what may be bloodstain, sex toys, hair strands and empty porn compact disc cases.
Paredes said the items had to be turned over to the court’s custody for safekeeping because the search warrant he had issued did not cover these.
The search warrant mentioned a Mitsubishi Pajero (LHJ 382) and computer cables, among others.
According to the search warrant, the woman, whom police did not identify until charges are filed, may be the companion of the male foreigner behind the abduction and killing of Pique.
Comendador’s denial that the police tampered with the license plate was dismissed by Inayagan Barangay Captain Nestor Tablate and some neighbors of the suspects—the Pajero owner and her foreign boyfriend.
Tablate, barangay councilor Edilberto Fat and tanod Arnel Segismar witnessed the police carry out the search warrant.
“Nakita gyod nako nga wa gyod na siyay kiniskisan, wa gyoy inusaban kay ako man gyod nang gitan-aw. Hayag man akong flashlight. LM gyod na di LH (I saw for myself that there were no scratches or changes made on the license plate. My flashlight was well-beamed. It was LM, not LH),” Tablate said.
He said he too wants the case solved to give justice to Ellah Joy but he wouldn’t want innocent people sent to jail on wrong suspicions.
Tablate is an organizer of the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad), of which Ellah Joy’s father Renante is a member.
Elizabeth Rabaya and three other persons went around the neighborhood yesterday morning to gather signatures, condemning the alleged tampering.
Rabaya said the Pajero woman and her boyfriend were good to them and it was impossible for them to commit the crime.
Rabaya said the couple was supposed to go abroad last Feb. 8, the day Ellah Joy was abducted in Calajo-an, Minglanilla. But they left the country the next day when the girl’s body was found below the cliff in Sayaw, Barili.
A neighbor, who refused to be identified, said noisy gays and women often visited the couple’s house on Friday and Sunday nights.
The neighbor said the couple often gave them food and other goods.
Tablate said that in 2008, the barangay officers surveilled the house, which the Pajero woman built 2004, after neighbors complained about the noise coming from there at night.
He said they had suspected the house was a cybersex den, but their suspicion could not be proven.
The house owners, who had detected their presence, had pulled out the computers from the house, Tablate said.
Tablate said they did not seek police help in their surveillance.
Meanwhile, Comendador said they will file a motion to submit the recovered items from the couple’s house for crime laboratory examination.
Comendador said Paredes’s order may delay the filing of the case but won’t affect their investigation.
Comendador also said he will ask the Cebu Provincial Anti-Criminality Task Force to place the six witnesses under awitness protection program.
At Capitol, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she is willing to provide the six new witnesses with protection.
She had learned that police investigators were worried about the safety of the new witnesses and the influence that the suspects or their counsel might wield over them if they were out in the open.
Garcia said she will wait for the written recommendation to have them placed under Capitol’s protection.
The Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force on Criminality Witness Protection Program was set up in November 2010 to provide immediate security to witnesses in situations wherein it takes time for national agencies to act, Garcia said.
The program provides police security escort, a secured billeting facility, subsistence allowance, traveling facility, free medical treatment and burial benefits in case the witness is killed in line with his testimony.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 11, 2011.