PNP changes tune on man tagged as suspect in Cebu slay

Published March 18, 2019, 9:33 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Martin Sadongdong

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has taken a step back in its earlier statement that Jonas Martel Bueno, a man arrested in Davao City for the murder of a farmer in January 2016, was also a suspect in the vicious killing of a teenage girl in Lapu-Lapu, City Cebu.

PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Bernard Banac (SCREENSHOT / PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Bernard Banac (SCREENSHOT / PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senior Superintendent Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, clarified that Bueno is again only considered a person-of-interest in the killing of 16-year-old Christine Silawan.

Silawan was found dead in a vacant lot in Sitio Mahayahay, Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City on March 11. She was naked from the waist down, her head skinned to the skull, and some of her internal organs were also missing.

“It has been established that [Bueno] has no direct link to that case [Silawan’s death],” Banac said in a radio interview late Sunday.

When asked by this reporter about the matter on Monday, Banac refused to comment and asked for understanding as he said they have yet to receive an official report from the Central Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO-7).

Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Davao Police Regional Office (PRO-11), echoed Banac’s statement and added that Bueno’s status as a suspect has been “downgraded to person-of-interest.”

Bueno was arrested in Barangay Matina Pangi, Davao City on March 15 by joint elements of Davao police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the strength of a warrant of arrest for the murder of Trinidad Batucan, a 60-year-old deaf-and-mute farmer who was found dead in Danao City, Cebu on January 13, 2019.

In a press briefing in Davao City after Bueno’s arrest, Morales directly linked the arrested suspect to a series of “serial killing of women in Cebu including a recent case where a minor was skilled with the same style of killing.” He was referring to Silawan.

It was earlier noted by Banac and Morales that the manner in which Silawan and Batucan were killed had similarities, as the skin on some parts of their bodies were peeled.

The PNP officials also pointed out before that there were some inconsistencies in the statements of Bueno and his wife, including the date and manner of their arrival in Davao City, thus, raising suspicions about him.

The change in the statements came after it was revealed Monday that the prime suspect in Silawan’s killing was arrested by the operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

According to authorities, the arrest of the 17-year-old suspect happened on Saturday night in Barangay Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.