• Lawman wanted me dead, said dying reporter

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    GASPING for her last breath, journalist Rubylita Garcia identified the police chief of Tanza town in Cavite province as the “brains” behind her shooting, the National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) said on Monday.

    In a statement, NPC President Benny Antiporda, who is also the owner of the tabloid Remate where Garcia wrote, said the victim managed to tell her son just minutes after she was shot that Supt. Conrado Villanueva was the only person who wanted her dead.

    “While we welcome the PNP’s [Philippine National Police] immediate decision to form a special investigation task group [SITG] that would directly report to Cavite provincial police director, Senior Supt. Joselito Esquivel, the NPC remains doubtful as to whether justice would be rendered to Rubie in the swiftest time possible—the main purpose for the formation of the SITG,” Antiporda said.

    Over in Cavite, one of the two suspects in the murder was identified by the Bacoor City Police through a cartographic sketch this morning at Camp Pantaleon Garcia, Imus City, Cavite.

    According to Cavite Provincial Police Director Joselito Esquivel Jr. and Police Supt. Rommel Estolano, Bacoor City police chief, they have identified one of the suspects and anytime today or tomorrow he will be arrested.

    “He is being under surveilance by my men in Cavite City, I’ve posted armed civilian policemen in the hideout of the suspect. The suspect is a gun for hire, the squatter area he is hiding in is being surrounded and he will be arrested and we will file murder charges against them and if the warrant of arrest will be issued by the fiscal, we will arrest him or them,” Esquivel said.

    The police chief of Tanza was administratively relieved by Esquivel when he was implicated by the son of the victim who told relatives that his dying mother mentioned the policeman’s name. According to Estolano he was not a suspect but is under investigation.

    Malacañang on Monday condemned the killing of the Cavite journalist and ordered authorities to hunt down the perpetrators.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the PNP has been ordered to immediately mobilize its forces in the province to ensure that the killers of tabloid reporter Garcia are arrested.

    Garcia, a reporter of Remate, was gunned down by two assailants inside her house in Bacoor City, Cavite Sunday morning. She was taken to a hospital in the city but died Sunday afternoon.

    “We urge the PNP to exert maximum efforts to bring about the early arrest of the perpetrators of the killing of reporter-broadcaster Rubylita Garcia and bring them before the bar of justice,” Coloma told media in a statement.

    “We extend our condolences to the family of the late Rubylita Garcia and we promise that we will pursue this heinous death,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a Palace media briefing.

    Citing a report from Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Theodore Sindac, Lacierda said that 52-year-old Garcia is a regular member of the National Press Club and a correspondent of Pilipino Times.

    “The investigator on case was able to produce an artist’s sketch through the statement of lone witness whose identity we will keep confidential,” Lacierda said reading Sindac’s text message.

    “A dedicated tracker team was organized and is conducting follow-up operations against the suspects. The body of the victim presently lies at Labyan [funeral parlor]in Barangay Maliksi, Bacoor City,” he added.

    National and local newsmen have denounced the attack and asked the government to immediately solve the latest media slay.

    Garcia, 52, became the latest victim of attacks on journalists. If her death is work-related, she will be the 20th journalist killed in the line of duty under the Aquino administration and the 160th since 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

    Vice President Jejomar Binay said “I condemn those responsible for the death of Rubilita Garcia. I expect our authorities will leave no stone unturned in their search for her killers,” he said.

    Binay also said government should ensure protection for media practitioners.

    “We have fought so hard to regain our people’s freedom of speech and expression. We have fought for a free press and and we cannot allow certain quarters to silence the peoples’ voices,” he said.

    In a statement, the NUJP condemned the murder of Garcia.

    “Again and again, we have been saying that one murder is too many. This latest killing shows that the government’s pronouncements on eliminating the culture of impunity surrounding the killings of journalists, lawyers, environmentalists and activists among others, have been nothing but lip service,” the NUJP said.

    WITH A REPORT FROM PNA

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