Wednesday, July 8, 2009
By Garry C. Cabotaje and Mia E. Abellana
FR. JOVENCIO Rabusa was a victim of a local robbery gang whose members are notorious for preying on pedestrians taking the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) in Talisay City, police said yesterday.
Though the Talisay City Police Station still has no sketches of the suspects, it has zeroed in on three men as being behind the killing of the 46-year-old priest Monday night.
Rabusa, a member of the ministry team of the St. Francis de Assisi parish church in Naga, Cebu, succumbed to three bullet wounds in the nape and left hand at the Talisay District Hospital at 9:20 p.m.
Police operations against the robbers paid off when they recovered the priest’s personal belongings yesterday morning.
Brian Juario, 22, married, found the black Hanes bag of Rebusa while tending his goat in a banana plantation around 11 a.m.
The rest of the priest’s things such as his Nokia cellular phone, towel, underwear, empty RayBan case, notebook, a mass guidebook and a bottle of sunblock lotion were left strewn in the area.
Juario and his 45-year-old father Antonio said they never touched the items until a responding police team arrived at the scene.
The Juario residence is in an interior portion about 40 meters away from the site where Rebusa was gunned down past 8 p.m. Monday.
Talisay City Police Station Chief Henry Biñas believed that the suspects used a revolver because no empty shells were found at the site.
Though the crime scene is just along the CSCR, it is secluded and dark because of the huge mango trees by the roadside.
The young Juario said he was himself a victim of motorcycle-riding robbers who took his cellular phone while he was passing by the area.
It was the third time policemen went to the scene.
The Juarios called up the police station after they spotted three men, one of them wearing a mask, outside their perimeter fence shortly before midnight Monday.
Incessant barking of dogs roused them from their sleep.
The Juarios believed that the recovered items were left by the suspects when they scampered toward the bushy interior upon the arrival of policemen.
At the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), Director Jesus Gaquing told reporters he did not want to set a deadline for Biñas to solve the case, saying he does not want police to resort to shortcuts.
Gaquing assured the church and Rabusa’s family that police are working to solve the crime and arrest the killers. He went to the area yesterday to check on the investigation.
The stretch of the CSCR, a vital artery for southbound and Cebu City-bound vehicles, is dark at night, a sharp contrast to the well-lighted South Road Properties in Cebu City.
The Talisay City Government has not restored the malfunctioning center-island lampposts of the four-lane highway, making it crime-prone and dangerous to motorists and pedestrians.
More than two years ago, a traffic police officer was shot and killed while hanging out at a dark portion of the CSCR near a private cemetery in Barangay San Roque.
Despite Talisay City’s Internal Revenue Allotment share of more than P200 million, Mayor Socrates Fernandez told dyRF Radyo Fuersa that City Hall will just resort to a piecemeal replacement of the busted lampposts.
A proposed memorandum of agreement with the Visayan Electric Co. for the installation of City Hall-purchased lamps has not materialized, he said.
“It (MOA) has not been acted upon by the City Council,” he said.
Gaquing said Biñas is asking authorities to put up lights along the road.
Meanwhile, 49-year-old widow Lucita Baguio, of Sitio Abalo, Cansojong, denied that her son Reynaldo, 26, was involved in the robbery and murder of Rabusa.
She said her son, alias Hapon, has been living in Negros Oriental since he left Cebu after the Sinulog festival last January.
“I really don’t know why they dragged my son into this case. He has not returned to Cebu since he left in January,” She said.
Baguio, a food peddler in Barangay Poblacion, was invited for questioning at the police station after lawmen found some tinfoil in a trash bin outside her house.
She admitted, though, that a taxi driver-friend of her late husband used the tinfoil when he dropped by at her house and sniffed an illegal substance two days ago.
But Baguio denied that she was into the illegal drug trade.
In the same interview, Baguio identified instead a certain Racel and Gerald Pangag as the probable suspects in the killing of Rebusa.
The duo, she said, has allegedly been preying on pedestrians taking the CSCR route and lovers on a night date in Cansojong’s public beaches.
Police investigation also showed that Rebusa was last seen with a male companion, believed to be a 16-year-old boy, prior to the shooting.
The priest had just reportedly crossed the CSCR going to the roadside mango trees when held up by three unidentified men.
When the priest was shot three times, the teenager sought help at the nearby Phoenix gas station.
“He was pale and visibly terrified when he told us that his companion was shot,” a gas attendant told Sun.Star Cebu.
For his safety, the boy, whose name has been kept under wraps, has temporarily been placed in the custody of a barangay official.
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