TOP police officials yesterday downplayed a woman’s claim that the suspected gun-for-hire who was arrested and charged for killing businessman Manuel Ting was not the gunman.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez said the 19-year-old woman’s statement has no bearing on the murder complaint the Task Force Ting filed recently against alleged gunman Ruel Velez.

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Velez, 44, of Barangay Ocana, Carcar City, Cebu was arrested last July 5, about two weeks after Manuel was gunned down in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City.

Manuel, who owns several businesses in the city including the Cebu Park-lane International Hotel, died of multiple gunshot wounds. He was attacked less than 24 hours after a brother, Nicolas, was also ambushed in Mandaue City. Nicolas survived.

Nerez said two eyewitnesses executed affidavits pointing to Velez as Manuel Ting’s gunman, which he believes are strong enough to pin down the jailed suspect.

Because of the report, Nerez said, he asked the woman to come out in the open and issue an affidavit to support her claim.

Nerez said he would like to know the background of the woman and to find out if she has any relation with the alleged gunman.

“We should not believe at once what anyone says,” he said.

The mother of the female witness, however, went to the headquarters of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) yesterday to correct the alleged claim of her daughter.

Ina (mother’s real name withheld, to protect the identity of the reported witness) said she was with her daughter when a radio reporter interviewed her.

“Ang ingon sa akong anak nga wa gyud siya ka klaro sa nawong. Anggid-anggid ra sa lawas ug gitas-on (My daughter said she did not see the man’s face clearly),” Ina told reporters.

Guam Logronio, a reporter of radio RGMA DySS and a Sun.Star Superbalita

correspondent, stood pat on his report that during his interview, the woman said Velez was not the gunman.

Witness

The witness, said Logronio, also told him she can recognize the real gunman if she sees him again.

Comendador yesterday said that before the complaint was filed against Velez, a team from the city police force led by Chief Insp. George Ylanan approached the woman four times.

They asked her if she saw the face of the gunman and if she could serve as a witness and issue a sworn statement.

Comendador said the woman repeatedly told them she failed to see the gunman’s face, because the latter was standing behind her.

She also refused to issue an affidavit, Comendador said.

Like Nerez, Comendador said the claim will not have any effect on the complaints the police have filed against Velez.

The murder complaint is still pending at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office, after Velez chose to undergo a preliminary investigation so he can submit his counter-affidavit.

Velez earlier denied killing Manuel.

Comendador, however, did not discount the possibility that the report would be “exploited” by the defense once the case reaches trial. (JTG)