Missing cop holds key to solving Dumaguete City broadcaster murder

Probers identify more persons of interest 

PTFoMS Editorial Team

MALACANANG PALACE, Manila: Police Executive Master Sergeant (PEMS) Reuel D. Pinero, a member of Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) who was earlier reported missing by family members, holds the key to solving the recent killing of DYMD 93.7 Energy FM broadcaster Rex Cornelio Pepino in Dumaguete City.

Murdered Broadcaster Rex Cornelio Pepino. (File)

Citing reports from local investigators, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said Pinero and another policeman are among the persons of interest (POIs) in the Pepino murder case. 

Reports reaching the Task Force suggest that Pinero was about to shed light on the murder and probably turn state witness before he was allegedly “picked-up” against his will by “high-ranking officials” of the Philippine National Police (PNP). A video showing Pinero in the company of other police officers before boarding a helicopter en route to Metro Manila from Cebu has since been circulating in social media.

“We have very strong reason to believe that PEMS Pinero is now in the hands of higher PNP officials and for that we will seek a clarification from the PNP leadership,” PTFoMS Executive Director and Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco said.

The National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines, in an official letter to PTFoMS, has requested “assistance” in locating Pinero after his wife, Nelly Pinero, made a public plea to the PNP leadership to find her missing husband in a press conference held last 12 August 2020.  

(Read: NPC seeks whereabouts of cops linked to Pepino murder case)

The NPC also noted that another POI in the case, a certain NOPPO Police Officer Melgin Bulandres, was also reported missing.  Bulandres was said to be a close colleague of Pinero and have “crucial knowledge” about Pepino’s killing. 

The NPC through Vice President Paul M. Gutierrez sought the task force’s assistance in confirming the actual whereabouts of policemen Bulandres and Pinero, if they are indeed now with the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO)  and also, the circumstances surrounding their “transfer” there.

“Both policemen can shed light on Pepino’s murder which has drawn condemnation from local, national and international media and human rights organizations”, the NPC said.

Meanwhile, the PTFoMS will start a new round of investigations into the murder of Pepino following the designation of Administrative Order 1 (AO1) Prosecutor Kelly Eusebio P. Catalan who will lead the Special Investigation Team for New Cases (SITN) earlier convened by Secretary of Justice Menardo I. Guevarra, Chairman of PTFoMS.

Guevarra explained that “it is imperative that there is a pro-active involvement of the prosecutor during the criminal investigation of cases involving media violence and other egregious human rights violations.”

Egco, meanwhile, expressed optimism that the latest developments in the case of Pepino, including the transfer of Pinero to the capital region, will serve the ends of justice.

“Let us put our trust in our institutions and the justice system.  There will be no sacred cows. There will be no coverup. I sincerely hope that those behind this dastardly act will have their day in court,” the Palace official stressed.

Earlier, the Presidential Task Force warned local officials in Negros Oriental not to obstruct the investigation of the case. He issued the warning after probers positively identified a car used as surveillance and getaway vehicle in the murder was traced to the Provincial Government. 

Egco also voiced concern when NBI agents investigating the case were subjected to serious threats and harassment by some unscrupulous individuals in the province. 

Pepino was a veteran commentator and known critic of local politicians. He hosted “Pokpokin mo Baby” that aired over DYMD Energy FM 93.7. He was killed execution-style after being shot five times at point-blank range by motorcycle “riding-in-tandem” gunmen right in front of his wife on 05 May 2020 in Dumaguete City.

The Presidential Task Force shall continue to monitor and inform the public on the developments in the Pepino murder case investigation. (PTFoMS)

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