Analysis The ‘matrix’ released by the Special Investigation Task Group on the analysis of the Yvonette Chua Plaza murder case.

PRO 11 files murder raps vs Army general, 9 others

January 25, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 1886 views

For death of female model in Davao City

POLICE Regional Office (PRO) 11 Director Brigadier General Benjamin H. Silo Jr. on Wednesday announced the filing of criminal charges against an Army general and nine of his men accused of involvement in the murder of a 38-year-old businesswoman-model in Davao City last December 28.

“With all the pieces of evidence at hand, the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Plaza on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 filed a criminal case for murder, theft and obstruction of justice against the suspects,” said the PRO 11 director in a report to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr.

Charged before a local prosecutor’s office were Brigadier Gen. Jesus P. Durante III, a former head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the Duterte administration-turned commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade (IB), and his deputy colonel.

The others were a staff sergeant, one sergeant, a corporal, two private first class officers, one “Noel” of Maco, Davao de Oro, one alias “Jr.,” and one alias “Master Sergeant” who was said to be a bodyguard of Durante.

“This Regional Office is committed to [bringing] justice to the bereaved family of the victim. With the collective efforts of all investigators and members of the SITG in cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the case is now considered cleared,” said Silo.

The Southern Mindanao police director said all the respondents in the case are currently under the custody of their Philippine Army (PA) superiors.

Durante and his co-accused are yet to come up with a statement regarding the accusations against them, although Durante had previously denied any involvement in the Plaza murder case.

The SITG Plaza was created to thoroughly investigate the killing of the victim at around 7:30 p.m. last December 28 in Green Meadows, Barangay Sto. Niño, Tugbok District, Davao City.

The initial investigation showed that the victim, a resident of the same subdivision, had just alighted from her white Mitsubishi Montero and was about to open the gate of her house when she was shot at the back by two unidentified motorcycle-riding assassins who immediately fled the scene.

Silo said that the following day, the names of some prominent personalities, including Durante, were dragged into the killing following a Facebook post of one “Christian Albert Gaza.”

One of the Facebook posts claimed the victim had earlier asked friends to help her escape from “battery,” showing photos of bruises on her face and giving the name of her assailant.

Some netizens linked the name to an Army officer, but neither PRO 11 nor the victim’s family “confirmed” that during the initial stage of the investigation.

This prompted Silo to create the SITG Plaza to dig deeper into the murder case with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Last January 2, the Davao City Police Office announced that a P1 million reward will be given to any person who can give vital information that will lead to the identification of the killers.

A week later, three witnesses surfaced and helped the SITG Plaza identify some of the suspects in the murder case, Silo said.

The PRO 11 director said that last January 19, the PA turned over to them several personalities believed to have had a hand in the killing of the victim after the accused voluntarily surrendered.

Silo said that an Army sergeant and a corporal “voluntarily admitted” their participation in the killing of the businesswoman thru separate extra-judicial confessions.

The official said the two soldiers claimed that the order to kill Plaza was given in July 2022. The two said that one Army staff sergeant, a confidant of a colonel, relayed such an order to kill “Yvonette” to another involved Army sergeant.

“A Staff Sergeant told them that the order was actually coming from Brigade Commander BGen. Jesus P. Durante III. It was explained to them that Yvonette is the girlfriend of Brigade Commander Durante and that the subject is in possession of [an] incriminating video recording. Aside from killing Yvonette, they were also directed to recover the cellular phones of the victim,” the PRO 11 director reported.

Silo said that the two soldiers said they had no intention to execute the plan and made lots of alibis even if they had clear chances to kill the victim. However, the two said they were pressured to do the “hit job” last December and shot her to death before fleeing with her cellphone and bag.

After the killing of the businesswoman, the two soldiers said they went to their hideout somewhere in Maco, Davao de Oro, where the colonel gave them a sum of money.

The two added that the colonel and staff sergeant burned the victim’s bag and instructed another to dismantle their getaway motorcycle.

Apart from the pieces of evidence and witnesses gathered by the SITG Plaza, the two surrendered soldiers also voluntarily yielded a caliber .45 semi-automatic pistol they used to kill the victim and a spent cartridge they picked before leaving the scene.

The surrendered corporal likewise surrendered the sweatshirt he was wearing when they killed the victim, the crashed iPhone of the slain businesswoman, and his and his cohort army sergeant’s mobile phones.

Meanwhile, Philippine Army (PA) chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said he relieved Durante as the commander of the 1001st IB due to his alleged involvement in the murder case of the Davao model.

“The Philippine Army will not condone any criminal act committed by its personnel. As such, BGen Jesus Durante has been relieved as commander of the 1001st Brigade after being named as a person of interest in the murder of Yvonnette Chua Plaza to give way to an impartial and thorough investigation,” said Brawner.

“The Army ensures the public that this incident is not service related,” added Brawner. BY ALFRED DALIZON & ZAIDA DELOS REYES