Negros Oriental cop under probe for media man's slay

BACOLOD CITY - A policeman in Negros Oriental is reportedly being investigated as a person of interest in the killing of a radio broadcaster in Dumaguete City three months ago.

Photo courtesy of CIDG-Negros Oriental/ MANILA BULLETIN

This was after the elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Negros Oriental raided the house of Police Executive Master Sgt. Reuel Piñero in Sibulan town on Wednesday by virtue of a search warrant issued by Judge Leoncio Bancoro of Regional Trial Court Branch 41 in relation to the death of 48-year-old Cornelio Pepino, a regular news reporter and announcer at DYMD Energy 93.7 FM.

On May 5, Pepino was killed in an ambush by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen in Barangay Daro, Dumaguete City, on his way home, along with his wife, who was unharmed in the attack.

According to Lt. Col. Ariel Huesca, head of CIDG-Negros Oriental, who is also the assistant commander of Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Pepino, they still could not consider Piñero as a suspect. "But, he can be considered as a person of interest based on the result of the investigation," he added.

Huesca said that the CIDG operatives, along with the members of Dumaguete and Sibulan Police Stations, Provincial Intelligence Branch, and Provincial Investigation and Detection Management Branch, recovered a cellular phone, and 131 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition, which were incidental to the search.

Huesca said that Piñero was subjected to investigation after they recovered the cellular phone which was one of the pieces of significant evidences they were looking with regards to the murder case.

"We have pieces of evidence that would lead to a conclusion that he is a person of interest," he added. He, however, said that they will first secure a cybercrime warrant to open the locked phone, as part of the procedure.

He said that Piñero, who is assigned as a tourist police and detailed at the Provincial Capitol, was present during the raid and was very cooperative.

It can be recalled that Pepino's wife called for a press conference on July 8, asking the public to help her identify the two unidentified motorcycle-riding men on board a black Yamaha Aerox.

Huesca said that they have been investigating Pepino’s murder case for three months, and they were still continuously gathering evidence.

He refused to divulge the number of the persons of interest being investigated in the said case.

He said he was hoping to finish the conduct of the investigation next month, if there were no challenges along the way.

Photo courtesy of CIDG-Negros Oriental