AFTER months of being at large, one of the alleged killers of radioman Joash Dignos was captured by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon Friday morning.
Superintendent Canilo Fuentez, Bukidnon police deputy provincial director for operations, led the capture of Dionesio Daulong, 21, at Purok 6, Barangay Paitan, Quezon in Bukidnon around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Read related story
Recovered from his possession was a .45 caliber pistol, one magazine loaded with ammunition, and a blue motorcycle with no plate number.
According to Fuentez, Daulong was arrested from Anesito Lopez’s house, a former barangay captain of Paitan.
Daulong is among the four suspects in Dignos’s killing identified by witnesses through a sketch released by Valencia City police January this year.
The alleged gunman led the escape of detainees from the Valencia City Jail in September 2013.
Senior Superintendent Pedro Austria, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Northern Mindanao (CIDG-10) chief, said Daulong has a series of murder and other criminal cases.
Daulong will face three counts of murder while cases for violation against Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Firearm and Ammunition are prepared by the CIDU-Malaybalay at the Provincial Prosecutor's Office.
In June 2013, months before the killing, two men riding a motorcycle lobbed a grenade at DxGT while the station played a recording of Dignos commentary on that day.
Meanwhile, Regional Prosecutor Jaime Umpa is optimistic on the case saying "we have a very strong case against the accused. Unta ang uban na mga akusado, kay daghan man ‘ni sila, madakpan pud."
"I will closely communicate with our prosecutor there [Bukidnon] to give enough attention and focus on this case. Kinahanglan nga matagaan nato ‘nig maayong panahon og istudyohan maayo ang kaso para sigurado ta naay conviction ani," he added.
Media personalities expressed their hopes toward the case despite elusive justice for extrajudicial killings in the industry.
"Kami nalipay. Unta kining pagkadakop ang unang ang-ang nga molihok ang kaso og dili mapareha sa uban nga kaso [ani nga industriya] nga lisod makita ang kahayag," Arthur Sapanghari, a radio commentator in Bukidnon, told this paper by phone Friday afternoon.
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chairperson Rowena Paraan expressed her optimism with the suspect’s arrest.
"It's a good development. It's a rare thing to happen na may nahuhuli. Sana tuloy-tuloy. Sana mahusay ang paghandle ng case para ma convict," she told this paper by phone.
Since 1986, there are only 13 convictions in the Philippines out of 164 extrajudicial killings.
"Yung killers, lalo na 'yong mastermind, ay napakaimportante kapag nahuli to deter the killings of journalists. Sana ang opportunity na ito ay magpapaalala sa lahat na kapag pumatay ka ng tao ay may karampatang parusa," she added.
JB Deveza, coordinator of the NUJP Mindanao Safety Office, is glad with the progress of the case.
"The capture of the alleged trigger man in the killing of Joash Dignos is a positive development. However, unless the mastermind is identified, arrested, and is made to answer for the murder, true justice shall have remained elusive," he told this paper via text message.
Cagayan de Oro Press Club president Jerry Orcullo lauded police Valencia for the capture of at least one of the suspects.
"We commend the police for the arrest of the suspect, however, we want to see that justice is served after due process. Also, the public wants to know the mastermind and be brought to the bar of justice," Orcullo told this paper also via text message.
Early reports have linked Valencia City Mayor Jose Galario Jr. to the alleged killing. Galario denied any involvement on the killing of Dignos.
"I had been used to his tirades for about eight years. If I wanted him killed, I would have done that long time ago. We had been civil. I never listened to his program. But people did tell me. I never wasted my time listening to him. I'd rather take care of my health and get well," he told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in a previous interview days after Dignos was gunned down.
Dignos was shot at a restaurant along Sayre Highway in Valencia City on November 29, 2013.
Dignos suffered from 22 gunshot wounds on his body. He was a block timer of DxGT Radyo Abante in Maramag town in Bukidnon and the first radio announcer in the province to be killed.