POLICE are claiming that they’ve already solved the murder of Ermita, Cebu City Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta with the arrest of Jimmy Largo, one of the four suspects, and the identification of the alleged mastermind.

Largo, an ex-convict, was arrested in his house on F. Gonzales St. near the Carbon Public Market last Friday night, less than 24 hours after Rupinta was ambushed in a secluded area in Tayud, Liloan last Thursday night. He was identified by Jocelyn Mendoza, Rupinta’s common-law wife, as one of the four persons riding in two separate motorcycles who shot at them.

Largo, who claimed to have worked with Imok, denied the allegations. He said that he was in Carbon market on that night that Imok was murdered. Rupinta’s brother can attest to that, he said, because he talked to him about the incident, after hearing about it on the radio. He claimed that he could not kill the barangay captain as they were close friends.

However, Largo told reporters about the plan of Rupinta’s political rival to assassinate the official during his three-month suspension by the anti-graft office following the complaint of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for his failure to cooperate with the agency during anti-drug operations in the barangay.

Largo said he was approached by the politician to carry out the assassination, but he refused. However, the plan was scuttled as the mastermind had found another gun-for-hire group to do the job. Maybe they killed Imok, Largo said, but he had no part in it. (Largo did not identify the politician.)

I am not questioning how the police are conducting the investigation because that is their expertise. But I am just cautioning and reminding them not to be complacent even if they have one of the alleged suspects.

I even doubt the police have identified the mastermind. How can they if Largo denied the accusations and did not reveal anything about the crime?

In a murder case, a criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit an unlawful act at some time in the future. The strongest link in identifying the mastermind is the gunman himself. Largo denied the allegation so how did the police identify the mastermind? Unless Largo spilled the beans, then that’s it. Police can include him in the charge sheet.

Police were also inconsistent about the motive behind the killing. They earlier claimed that politics had nothing to do with it, but now it appears that politics was indeed involved.

As to Largo being identified by Imok’s common-law wife, I cannot question her being a vital witness to the crime. But is she sure that Largo was one of the gunmen? Was the area well-lighted and was her vision clear enough, considering the incident happened at night? She said that the gunmen did not wear helmets or masks. If I were Largo, I would have covered my face because my target knew who he was. It’s also human instinct to seek cover or duck when they hear gunfire. Did Mendoza keep her composure when the gunmen peppered their vehicle with bullets? I doubt it.

I am not trying to discredit the police theory nor the testimony of the witnesses. My intention is to remind the police that arresting a suspect during investigation, filing the case in the prosecutor’s office and the trial of the merit of the case in court are different stages. Will police findings and evidences and witnesses’ testimonies stand scrutiny in court?

Daghang mga kaso diha nga sa sinugdanan maka-ingon ta nga ang akusado o mga akusado mao na gyud ang naghimo sa krimen. Pero sa kaulahian abswelto diay. Unsay nahitabo sa kaso ni Bella Ruby Santos nga giakusahan nga mipatay sa says anyos nga si Ella Joy Pique? Abswelto si Santos. Sa kaso ni anti-drug crusader Alden Abi-Abi, abuwelto sila si Ahmed Luzano. Ang uban nakonbikto tuod sa RTC apan gi-reverse sa Court of Appeals ug sa Supreme Court kay huyang ang mga ebedensiya. Mao nay akong pahimangno sa mga pulis nga dili magdali-dali