University president shot dead in Cagayan de Oro

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Updated) -- The president of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) was shot dead outside his house in Barangay Upper Carmen, this city, around 1 a.m. Saturday, December 2.

Police said Dr. Ricardo E. Rotoras, 50, sustained eight gunshot wounds from a caliber .45 pistol.

“Sa among pagsusi sa iyahang external portion sa iyang lawas, naa siya’y walo ka igo sa bala pinusilan sa part sa iyang ulo, sa iyang abaga ug sa dinhi sa iyang kilid, duha ka kilid niya ug then nay gitawag nato dinhi dapit sa iyang dapi-dapi, then sa left nga portion sa iyang tiil (During the investigation, the victim sustained eight gunshot wounds in his head, chest, both of his side, his butt cheeks, and in his left leg),” Senior Police Officer 4 Paul Jean Ragmac, head of the Scene of the Crime Operatives-Northern Mindanao, said.

Police investigators retrieved four slugs and six empty shells from Rotoras’ house at Cypress Street, Golden Glow North, Upper Carmen.

Jonathan Khobuntin, 44, Rotoras' personal driver for nine years, said they had just come from a party when the incident happened.

"Pag-naog ni sir, sa ilang balay sa gate gyud, routine naman gyud namo nang inag naog niya i-abante nako ang sakyanan kay akong i-parking og tarong atbang sa iyang balay. Pag-abante nako, naka abante siguro ko og 10-15 meters, naa koy nadunggan nga buto duha, sirado man kaayo ang Montero, pagbalik nako sa agi naigo sa akong suga hapa na si sir, kulob na (After Rotoras got off the car in front of his house gate, it's our routine that when he get off the car, I will park the vehicle in front of his house. When I drove the car for 10 to 15 meters, I heard two gunshots. I saw sir Rotoras lying face-down)," Khobuntin said.

Witnesses saw two persons walking away from the crime scene and fled toward an unknown direction onboard a getaway black pickup truck.

Rotoras was rushed to JR Borja Hospital where he was pronounced dead by physicians.

Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) Director Robert Roy Bahian said on Saturday that special investigation Task Group Rotoras has been formed to investigate the murder and to apprehend those responsible.

Task Group Rotoras is headed by Cocpo Deputy City Director for Operations Joram Jumalon, Bahian said.

Bahian said they have also requested the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Northern Mindanao.

The shooting incident is said to be planned based on the evidences retrieved by the police and the statements of the witnesses.

The family of the victim also told investigators that Rotoras received death threats.

Police Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa II, Cocpo spokesman, said they are looking into the several angles and possible motives in the case, adding that they were able to acquire CCTV footage and was able to find witnesses.

Hortillosa declined to reveal other details to avoid compromising the investigation.

In a Facebook post, Maricel Rivera, city information office head, stated that City Mayor Oscar Moreno announced that he has asked the help of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and the NBI for the speedy resolution of the case. The mayor is also in close coordination with the Cocpo.

Moreno also expressed his deepest condolences to the family, saying that “this is very sad and a great loss to the academic community and Mindanao.”

On Monday, December 4, USTP students were advised to wear black shirts to pay tribute to the slain university president.

The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) of USTP announced that there will be a gathering at the gymnasium after the flag ceremony on Monday, December 4, where faculty, students, and non-academic personnel will offer 1,000 flowers for the slain university president. The OSA said buildings inside the university will also display black cloth as a sign of bereavement.

Profile pictures in Facebook accounts of members of the USTP community were also changed into black to sympathize with the Rotoras family.

Rotoras has just been re-elected for the fourth time as USTP president.

He was also the president of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges. (With a report from Kris Sialana Cubico/Superbalita CDO)
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