Murder charges were filed against the suspect in the killing of Ilog town Councilor Antonio “Karem” Gequillana Jr. before the Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday.
The charges were filed against Ryan Gatoc, 31, of Brgy. 1, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, Bacolod police director, Senior Supt. Ricardo de la Paz, said.
Bacolod City Prosecutor Emmanuel Lupisan, however, ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to release Gatoc as his apprehension could no longer fall under a warrantless arrest since the shooting of Gequillana occurred on July 27, while Gatoc was arrested on August 2.
He said that Gatoc, through his lawyer, is ordered to file his counter- affidavit within 10 days after receiving a subpoena from the City Prosecutor’s Office, otherwise, the case will be elevated to the court.
Witnesses, who claimed that they saw Gatoc shooting Gequillana five times from the back, while the councilor was standing beside his car in front of the Eastview Hotel in Bacolod City, have issued affidavits.
Although Gatoc isdenying that he is the gunman of Gequillana, De la Paz said, he believesthey have strong evidence against Gatoc.
Before the filing of the case yesterday afternoon at the City Prosecutor’s Office, tension rose when City Police deputy director, Supt. Santiago Rapiz, scolded Police Officer 3 Arlan Depedro of CIDG-Negros Occidental for not putting handcuffs on Gatoc.
In the video shown by ABS-CBN Bacolod, Gatoc was walking freely without handcuffs on their way to the City Prosecutor’s Office.
Rapiz said it is a violation of the police standard operating procedure.
CIDG head, Chief Insp. Ceasar Paday-os, also said it isstandard operating procedure to handcuff a detainee but Depedro might have forgotten to place handcuffs on him.
FEARING FOR HIS LIFE
Despite the order of the City Prosecutor’s Office for his release, Gatoc has opted to remain under the custody of the CIDG-Negros Occidental, Paday-os said.
Gatoc was supposed to be brought to Police Station 4 in Brgy. Villamonte but he appealed to the CIDG not to endorse him there, as he fears for his security, he said.
Paday-os also clarified yesterday that no one intimidated or forced Gatoc to admit the crime, contrary to his claims to the media earlier.
Sugar planter Bob Cuenca, father-in-law of Gequillana, lauded the police yesterday for the arrest of Gatoc.
Cuenca said that if Gatoc is indeed guilty of the killing, then he needs to face the consequences.
Now that the gunman has been arrested, justice will finally be served, he said.*APN