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Probers see Lao as ‘person of interest’

By NITZ ARANCON
Correspondent

INVESTIGATORS now see the president of the firm behind the unfinished construction project here as a “person of interest” in the investigation into the Dec. 2, 2017 shooting death of University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines president Ricardo Rotoras.

Chief Insp. Mardy Hortillosa, spokesman of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office, has confirmed that Wing-An Construction and Development Corp. president Selwyn Lao has been included in the list of “persons of interest” of the Special Investigation Task Group working on the Rotoras case.

Hortillosa said investigators have taken note of Lao’s allegations against Dr. Rotoras and the USTP board of regents, and about how the university’s 2017 decision to terminate its nearly P200-million contract with the construction firm affected him.

“Tungod sa iyang kasuko batok ni Rotoras,” said Hortillosa.

But authorities clarified that “persons of interest” are not the same as suspects.

“Tanang tawo nga  dunay conflict ni Dr. Rotoras atong gi-consider na to nga persons of interest,” he said.

Hortillosa said investigators also theorized that the suspect arrested in Makati in January, Johnreal  Abel Gamanay, merely served as a gunman and that there was a mastermind.

Gamanay was arrested last month along with Alejandro Ceniza in connection with a murder case in Misamis Occidental based on a warrant issued by a court. They are now detained in Misamis Occidental.

“Gunman ra man siya (Gamanay) so posibling dunay mastermind nga nagsugo niya aron patyon si Dr. Rotoras,” Hortillosa said.

Lao, for his part, said there was nothing he can do if investigators listed him as a person of interest, saying he merely revealed information and the circumstances surrounding the unfinished construction of a twin four-story building at the USTP campus.

Lao said it was he who was wronged, and so he complained before the Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the President and the courts.

Lao said he was worried that authorities would make up a story and turn him into a fall guy.

“Wala man ko mahadlok pero nabalaka lang ko kay basin ila na pud ko nga plantingan,” Lao said.

Lao said this even as he cited allegations made by former Rotoras subordinate, Architect Rey Galua, that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group planted unlicensed guns and grenades when police raided his uptown Cagayan de Oro house in Jan. 9.

It was Galua who designed the unfinished USTP building project.

Lao said he was willing to answer police questions in Malacañang, and not in his house.

“Kon sa among balay sila mag-imbistigar, basin plantingan na sab ta. Maayo tong dito kami magkita ug mag-estorya  sa Malacañang,” Lao said. “Makama-o na man  sila mag-tanom sa  pusil, tanim bala, tanim granada.”

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