PDEA officer slain-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
CEBU CITY -- A former spokesperson of an anti-drug agency in Central Visayas was shot dead by a lone assailant on a motorcycle on Escario St., Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City, late Saturday night.
Police believe this could be a work-related case.
An autopsy showed Jesus “Jessie” Tabanao, 35, died after getting shot five times, the bullets hitting his heart, lungs and spine. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) employee had gunshot wounds in his back and right armpit.
He was also a former radioman of Bombo Radyo until he returned as a talent of dyRC Radyo Calungsod this year, where he anchored an anti-drug advocacy program. He was transferred to the PDEA Caraga Region last September 1 after serving Central Visayas since 2008.
A special team of investigators from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) was created to track down the suspect. The PDEA will conduct a parallel investigation.
A homicide investigation showed Tabanao was on his way to fetch his pregnant wife Katrina when he was shot in a well-lit area at 11:45 p.m. last Saturday.
A security guard who witnessed the incident told police the suspect pulled over and got down from his motorcycle. He wore a full-face helmet.
He then crossed to the other lane heading toward Tabanao, who went out of his white Mitsubishi Strada (YFY-911) at that time, possibly to get something from the back.
The witness, who was on his way home, said the suspect shot Tabanao several times then fled.
Paramedics from the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF) arrived and declared Tabanao dead on the spot.
Chief Inspector Romeo Santander, head of CCPO’s City Intelligence Branch (CIB), said they are considering work-related issues in the case.
“As a law enforcement agent, some people might get angry after being caught or stopped in their illegal drug trade,” he said.
Santander said they are also not discounting the possibility that some held personal grudges against Tabanao.
Eight empty shells fired from a 9mm pistol were recovered by police in the crime scene. Two 9mm pistols that were believed to be owned by Tabanao were found in his possession and vehicle.
One of the bullets hit Tabanao’s vehicle and exited toward the roll-up metal door of a nearby restaurant.
Homicide investigators will submit Tabanao’s three mobile phones to the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) in the Visayas to find out if he received threats before he was killed.
Tabanao’s body was brought to Surelife Funeral Homes and transferred to St. Peter’s Funeral Homes, where he was autopsied.
Santander and his team went to the crime scene on Sunday to look for closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras that might help identify the suspect through the footage.
He said they will meet with the Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB) and Homicide Section today (Monday) to discuss the data they’ve gathered so far.
Santander also urged motorists who might have passed the area during the incident to come to them and help shed light on what happened.
Felino Bronia, medico-legal officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Crime Laboratory-Central Visayas, said he also found a bullet when he conducted the autopsy before noon on Sunday.
Katrina, in an interview with reporters, said she believed her husband was trying to protect her last Saturday night.
Katrina, who is due to give birth in the second week of October, was supposed to be fetched by Tabanao in IT Park in Barangay Apas. Her husband kept on telling her to stay with her friends for a while, after she went out with them.
She theorized her husband might have noticed the assailant following him and attempted to put on the bulletproof vest that Tabanao usually carried.
Katrina narrated they went out from their house in Lawaan, Talisay City at 11 a.m. that day. He dropped her off in a mall to buy a ticket for his return to Butuan City today, Monday.
Tabanao informed her he would go with his boss and also refill bullets, because her husband would help provide for a shootfest.
After attending the Mr. and Ms. Press Freedom 2013 pageant last Saturday night, Katrina and her friends went out to a pizzeria in Barangay Lahug but proceeded to I.T. Park because the shop was full.
She was communicating with her husband at that time and was told by Tabanao that he would follow them. Tabanao went to PDEA-Central Visayas’ office, bought medicine from a drug store in Fuente Osmena before proceeding to Escario St.
Katrina and her friends finished eating, but her husband failed to reply to her text messages.
She boarded a taxi with a friend, where she learned, through Facebook, about the death of her husband.
Katrina proceeded to the crime scene after a photo of it was uploaded on the social networking site.
During an interview Sunday night, she said she didn’t know if Tabanao had received threats because her husband would not tell her anything about work, which was confidential.
They have a nine-year-old son and already picked a name for their second child.
“He was excited to take a paternity leave,” Katrina said.
Name and memory
She warned people who might malign her husband’s name that she would file a case against them.
“His name is the only thing we have. Mao na’y mada sa among mga anak (That’s what our children will have),” Katrina said.
Tabanao’s wake is in St. Peter’s Funeral Homes on New Imus Road for three days and will be transferred to their house in Talisay City. He will be buried in Moalboal town on September 21.
Lyndon Aspacio, regional director of PDEA-Central Visayas, said he was saddened by Tabanao’s death.
He has tasked two personnel to see to the needs of the Tabanao family.
Aspacio told Sun.Star Cebu they can’t yet say what could have motivated the attack.
“Sa pagkakaalam ko, wala naman siyang kaaway o nakaaway (As far as I know, he didn’t have any enemies),” he said.
Tabanao’s media colleagues, who celebrated Sunday the opening of Cebu Press Freedom Week, were shocked by his death.
The Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFJB) condemned the killing of Tabanao in a statement and urged law enforcers to arrest the killer and bring justice to the family.
The Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) and its affiliate, Cebu Broadcasting Company (CBC), also condemned the assault.
Tabanao hosted the weekend edition of Radyo Cebu’s “Police Line-Up” and was co-anchor of the station’s anti-drug advocacy program, “Drug Watch.”
Lawyer Rhina Seco of dyRC said they were ready to give Tabanao his newly renewed Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas identification card, as a way of welcoming him back to the industry.
Instead, they gave it to Katrina, who sobbed after receiving the I.D. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 16, 2013.