AFTER news of Ruel Velez’s arrest as the alleged gunman in the shooting of hotelier Manuel Ting made the front pages, Velez’s face became familiar to those who worked around Ting.

The witnesses issued affidavits stating they saw Ruel and his wife Susan on separate occasions outside ABCED System Corp., which Manuel owns, in Mambaling, Cebu City on the day Manuel was shot.

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With the witnesses’ statements, Cebu City Police Office Patrocinio Comendador Jr. said yesterday they are studying the option to amend their complaint to include Susan for conspiring with Ruel in the killing Ting.

Manuel’s son Alan, his manager Cyril Lukban and two employees, Marciano Lastimoso and Rolando Damos, issued separate affidavits saying they saw Velez hours and minutes before Ting was shot dead.

Comendador presented to reporters the affidavits of the four men in a news conference yesterday, adding that aside from Velez, his wife Susan was also seen there.

Comendador said they knew of this information shortly after Ruel’s arrest, but chose not to reveal it yet until their statements could be subscribed and sworn to before a notary public.

He added the statements, as opposed to the ones made by a woman who cleared Ruel, will hold weight in a court of law.

“With these statements, added to that of the eyewitnesses who identified him as the gunman, I think we have a very strong case,” he told reporters yesterday.

Ruel has denied involvement in Manuel’s death while Susan later told reporters her husband was a good man and appealed to an 18-year-old bakery attendant to come out and clear his name.

The woman was earlier quoted as saying that Ruel was not the gunman, but later issued an affidavit claiming the reporter misquoted her.

In his statement, Alan said a week before his father’s death, he noticed a man “strangely walking into the showroom of ABCED.” Alan alleged the man looked around the showroom.

He thought the man was an agent of a competitor, tasked to spy on their showroom. He instructed his store personnel not to give out information.

“For not less than three times on different days, I saw him (go) inside the showroom several times a week before my father was ambushed,” his statement read.

Alan added that after seeing the July 8 headline of Sun.Star Supera Balita, he noticed that the woman in the photo beside Ruel was the same woman who was with Ruel the first time he encountered him at the showroom.

Familiar

He encountered Ruel a second time, sitting at the business center facing the stairs of the showroom. The third encounter with Ruel was when he entered the store and sat on a bench.

When police presented to him Ruel as the man arrested for his father’s murder, Alan then found him familiar and identified him as the same man who went to their store several times.

For his part, Lukban, said while taking a cigarette break a day before Manuel was shot, he noticed a man seated on a motorcycle, which was parked under a tree across the store’s driveway.

“(I) thought he was waiting for someone or just taking shade from the scorching heat.

When I finished my two cigarette sticks for around seven minutes and observed the man on the motorcycle who was approximately 5’7” in height, late 30’s to mid- 40’s, of medium build, wearing a white loose round neck shirt and maong light blue pants. I noticed he remained in the area up to the time I went back to the office,” his

statement read.

Two days after Manuel’s death, he said homicide investigators showed him a photo of a man, whom he identified as the one who he saw loitering outside ABCED. He was later identified as Ruel.

Damos, a security guard assigned to ABCED, said Ruel and a woman entered the showroom from the first to third week of June.

He said the woman came to the store and bought small items at the store several times in the morning and would then return in the afternoon while Ruel would arrive at the store by 4 p.m.

He claimed the woman came as frequently as Ruel did and he later recognized her when he saw her photo on the front page of Sun.Star Superbalita, standing next to Velez as news of his arrest was published.

He admitted he was surprised she knew who Manuel was but was not able to answer her.

He added he once helped her hail a taxi because he treated her like a customer, as she was now familiar to him as a frequent visitor of the store.

Recognized

After seeing news reports on TV about Ruel’s arrest, he said he remembered Ruel as a frequent visitor at the store.

As for Lastimoso, an employee of ABCED, he said that at past 5 p.m. last June 22, he noticed a woman wearing a white blouse and pants standing outside a bank across the ABCED parking lot, staring at Manuel, who was talking to a client.

He said he wanted to ask if she needed something from Manuel, but decided against it because she would look away when she saw him looking at her.

He got distracted when a co-worker told him to close the back door. When he returned, the woman was gone and Manuel was getting ready to board his vehicle.

At 6 p.m., Ting was shot dead in Barangay Tisa.

When he read the same news report about Velez’s arrest, he also recognized the woman beside him, identified as his wife, as the same one who was staring at Ting from the bank across the street.

Comendador said with these affidavits, he will let the public decide if they have a credible case against Velez for the murder of Manuel.