By Antonio L. Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-11 clarified on Monday that 32-year old Jonas Martel Bueno, who was arrested in Purok Santiago, Barangay Matina Crossing on Saturday, was a fugitive with a pending warrant of arrest for killing Joselito Benitez Lumen on October 2, 2016, in Barangay Sac-on, Carmen town in Cebu.
NBI-11 assistant regional director Jonathan Balite said, in an interview on Monday that the reason for Bueno’s arrest was because of a non-bailable murder case and the arrest warrant issued by Judge Jerry B. Dicdican of Branch 25 of the Danao City Regional Trial Court on February 23, 2017, for killing Lumen.
He further clarified that the arrest was not for the deaths of 62-year old farmer Trinidad “Trening” Batucan last January 13, 2019, and 16-year old Christine Lee Silawan last March 11, 2019 in Lapu Lapu City.
“The accused Bueno was arrested on the basis of warrant of arrest issued by Judge Dicdican for the case of murder,” he said, adding that they expect Bueno would be flown back to Cebu to present the suspect before the court.
Bueno and his brother, Junry, and brother-in-law, Jury Mal-ang, were facing murder charges for killing Lumen, who was shot in the head and body.
In an interview with reporters, Bueno said he and Lumen had engaged in a brawl that left the suspect wounded in the left palm after the victim hit Bueno with a knife. This prompted him to shoot the victim thrice.
Bueno vehemently denied killing Batucan or Silawan, but admitted to killing Lumen.
Police Regional Office 11 director Chief Supt. Marcelo C. Morales issued a statement during a press conference shortly after the arrest that Bueno was nabbed as the suspect, along with his two brothers, Junry and Jovy, for allegedly killing Batucan on January 13, 2019.
Junry and Jovy, who were named as suspects in Batucan’s death, were killed in a follow-up police operation on January 18, 2019, some five days after the victim was found dead.
Morales also said at that time that Bueno was being considered a prime suspect for the death of Silawan.
The fugitive insisted he could not be involved in any of the two crimes as he was not in Cebu when the alleged killings happened.
He claimed he and his family went into hiding in Talamban, Cebu in 2017, moved to Buenavista, Agusan del Sur on March 5, 2018, and lived there until they moved to Davao City on February 25, 2019.
Authorities in Cebu found the style of the killing of Batucan and Silawan strikingly similar, with faces removed from the skull.
In Davao City, Bueno said he had worked as a construction worker for four days at a construction site of a hotel in Matina before he was arrested. Bueno’s family earned a living in Agusan del Sur by selling charcoal.