By NITZ ARANCON with LITO RULONA
and A.L. RICALDE, Correspondents
INVESTIGATORS over the weekend said they were looking into cases filed by and against slain University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines president Ricardo Rotoras.
This came as Mayor Oscar Moreno hinted of a “mastermind” and called on investigators to bring Dr. Rotoras’s killers to justice. He also offered a P1-million reward for anyone who can provide information that could lead to the arrest of the killers.
Dr. Rotoras, 48, had just come from a gathering of Masons at N Hotel in Barangay Kauswagan when he was shot outside his home on Cypress St., Golden Glow-North subdivision in Upper Carmen at around 1 am Saturday.
Rotoras, the head of the state-run USTP and its forerunner Mindanao University of Science and Technology, was also the president of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges.
Chief Insp. Ritchie Salva of the Carmen police station said Rotoras had at least six gunshots to the head, back, shoulder, left part of the torso, buttocks and calf. Others report that he succumbed to eight gunshot wounds.
Police said there was more than one gunman.
Dr. Rotoras was declared dead on arrival at the JR Borja Memorial General Hospital by Dr. Marco Antonio Cabonce at around 1:35 am Saturday.
City police director Senior Supt. Roy Bahian said investigators were not ruling out the possibility that Rotoras may have been murdered because of his work as USTP president.
Police said they have information about cases that involved Rotoras either as the plaintiff or defendant.
Camp Alagar spokesman Supt. Lemuel Gonda said, “We have received such information but we are validating it.”
Chief Insp. Mardy Hortillosa, spokesman of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office, said the cases that involved Rotoras would be among the things to be discussed when officials and investigators meet to assess the data and pieces of evidence they have collected since Saturday.
A case conference is scheduled today, he said.
Hortillosa said investigators were also looking into Dr. Rotoras’s personal contacts, his possible enemies and the threats he had allegedly received.
Dr. Rotoras’s elder brother Eldie said the murdered USTP president had received threats, and that his family would provide information about a “person of interest” to investigators.
He hinted that his family suspected that the killing was partly work-related.
“Paglingkod niya nga president sa USTP naa na kini’y bahad sa iyang kinabuhi,” the elder Rotoras said.
Chief Insp. Salva said crime scene investigators found six empty shells and four slugs believed to have come from caliber .45 pistols.
He theorized that the gunmen waited for Rotoras.
“Pag-abot sa iyang sakyanan, tungod sa ilang gate, mikanaog ang biktima, ug ang iyang driver mi-abante aron mo-backing. Pag-abante sa iyang driver, didto na dayon siya gipusil sa mga suspect ang biktima du-ol sa ilang gate,” Salva said.
Salva said investigators also found a wooden ladder outside a concrete fence of the gated subdivision that they suspected to have been used by the gunmen to enter the subdivision undetected by the guards.
Mayor Moreno said different law enforcement groups, including the National Bureau of Investigation, need to pool their resources in order to solve the Rotoras murder case as quickly as possible.
The Special Investigation Task Group Rotoras is composed of the Cocpo, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Camp Alagar, and the NBI.
Moreno said he brought the matter to the attention of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.
Bahian said the law enforcement groups were conducting parallel investigations and were looking into all the angles of the case.
So far, he said, investigators have agreed that Rotoras had at least two or more killers.
Bahian said there were also two witnesses, one of whom claimed to have seen two gunmen being fetched by a black pick-up truck after the shooting.
One of the witnesses, a watchman, said he saw two men walk away from the crime scene and ride a black pick-up truck.
The same witness told the police that days before the gun attack, there were people who acted suspiciously at a grassy portion near a building and perimeter fence of the subdivision.
Mayor Moreno said he was informed that the Rotoras home had no functioning surveillance camera but Bahian said there were establishments near the USTP president’s house that may have camera recordings of the shooting.