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A student cadet runs past a huge tarp put up by students and officials of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines demanding swift justice for their slain school president Ricardo Rotoras, on Wednesday. (photo by froilan gallardo)

Gumanay could be a fall guy: academic

By HERBIE GOMEZ, Editor in chief
and NITZ ARANCON, Correspondent . 

THE police’s claims that they arrested and charged one of the killers of University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines president Ricardo Rotoras has raised more questions than answers, and sparked suspicions that authorities turned the man into a fall guy because they were in a hurry to declare the murder a closed case.

But with the police not being able to say what the motive was or even come up with a clear and straight narrative about the Dec. 2, 2017 shooting death of Dr. Rotoras, a closure is farfetched, said Dr. Manuel Jaudian, dean at large of the Cagayan de Oro College-Phinma’s criminology department and former president of the Professional Criminologists’ Association of the Philippines.

Dr. Jaudian said the way the police has been handling the Rotoras case raises suspicions that the suspected gunman, Johnreal Abel Gumanay, is a fall guy so that his arrest would be seen as an “accomplishment,” or worse, stop the investigation “so that it would not lead to the mastermind.”

He said he feared that there was a mastermind, and that such person is being “protected.”

Jaudian said there are fundamental questions that need answers about the December 2017 murder such as:

  • Why was Rotoras killed by the gunman?
  • What did Rotoras do to him that he took part in planning the assassination and in executing the plan?
  • Did he carry out the gun attack alone or were there other gunmen?
  • Did the group do it on their own or were they contracted to kill Rotoras? If they were contracted, then who masterminded the murder?

“Without a clear story about the murder, I don’t know how there can be a strong case against the suspected gunman,” said Jaudian.

Jaudian said the police would also need to show Gumanay’s supposed extra-judicial confession and prove that the suspect was not under police pressure when he allegedly confessed.

“If there are witnesses, where are their statements?” he asked rhetorically.

“The police cannot just say, ‘Here is the gunman, arrested and charged,’ and then declare it a closed case without telling the Rotoras family and the public the story about what really happened,” said Jaudian.

Without a clear narrative about the Rotoras murder, Jaudian said he was worried that the case against Gumanay in connection with killing of the USTP president would be dismissed.

Lawyer and former vice mayor Antonio Soriano said Gumanay would be seen as a fall guy if the police cannot present credible witnesses and evidence.

Neither Gumanay nor any witness or their statements have been presented to the Rotoras family or to the media. No one has seen Gumanay or any witness except the police.

Supt. Mardy Hortillosa, the spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office who earlier declared the Rotoras murder a “closed case,” said a witness identified Gumanay at the Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental when the suspect was brought by the police from Makati in January.

From Laguindingan, he said, Gumanay was taken straight to Misamis Occidental where he would be tried for the murder of an Ozamiz politician.

Hortillosa said Gumanay was not brought to Cagayan de Oro after his arrest in January.

“Gi-pinpoint gyud siya sa atong witness nga siya gyud ang hitman sa maong krimin,” said Hortillosa.

Hortillosa said he was unaware about how Gumanay was interrogated following his arrest in Makati City in connection with the murder of former Ozamiz vice mayor Rolando Romero.

“Wala nako nakabalo kon duna bay abogado ang maong suspect during sa interrogation sa atong mga imbistigador kay didto na man gud ni siya gi-interrogate sa Ozamiz human nadakpan ni siya sa Makati,” said Hortillosa. “Ang ato nang mga investigator ang mi-adto sa Ozamiz City aron pag-interrogate sa maong suspect.”

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