CEBU City Police Office Director Patrocinio Comendador was irked by the report of dySS Super Radyo reporter and Sun.Star Superbalita correspondent Guam Logroño that a 19-year-old woman who witnessed the killing of businessman Manuel Ting claimed that Ruel Velez was not the gunman. Comendador also criticized Guam for not coordinating with the police when he interviewed the witness, considering that Ting's killing is a high-profile case.

First, we owe no apology to Comendador or to any other policeman. Journalists are not under the control of the police.

Why should we coordinate with the police in our quest for the truth and in our effort to come up with a fair and just reporting? The witness is not under police custody.

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What does Comendador want? That media would swallow hook, line and sinker what the police say? Nobody can dictate on us and we have the right to use our inquisitive skills in pursuit of news. We have no intention of competing with the police or jeopardizing their investigation. We are here to seek the truth.

Why would Comendador and other police officers blame Guam when he was just doing his work? Because he came up with an information that contradicted the police theory on the killing?

When Guam located the woman’s whereabouts, he only showed photos of Velez published in the newspapers to her. He asked a simple question: Was the guy in the photos the same person who ambushed Ting?

Guam did not exert pressure, antagonize, coerce or threaten the witness. She said Velez was not the gunman. So, what will Guam report?

Why would the police hold it against Guam? Had the girl said that the gunman was Velez, Guam would have also reported that.

Her statement was heard by the barangay captain of the place, by barangay tanods and by her parents. The woman’s mother, however, later refuted Guam's version before the police.

The police should not be worried about this development. Until the witness executes an affidavit, her statement to the media has no value. So policemen should not worry because they still have two other witnesses that identified Velez as the gunman. They have an airtight case.

Still, I would like to remind the police that investigation and prosecution are two different things.

(bobby@sunstar.com.ph)