Cops tag ranking NCMH official as mastermind in murder of late NCMH chief, driver

Published August 25, 2020, 3:53 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

The Quezon City Police District has tagged a ranking official of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) as mastermind in the killing of NCMH chief Dr. Roland Cortez and his driver.

QCPD head Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo said charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder have already been filed against the mastermind and six other cohorts before the QC Prosecutor’s office.

On board a vehicle, Cortez and his driver, Ernesto Dela Cruz were at the corner of  Cassanova  Drive and Tandang Sora Ave. in Quezon City when they were shot dead by two motorcycle-riding gunmen last July 27.

In a press conference Tuesday, QCPD investigation head Maj. Elmer Monsalve said a ranking NCMH official and her bodyguard, two persons wanted by the police and several others were behind the twin slay.

Monsalve said they were able to identify the suspects through the getaway vehicle used by the gunmen and through interviews with NCHM personnel.

The QCPD said they are eyeing Cortez’ fight against corruption inside NCMH as possible  motive behind his death.

“Ang lumalabas na motibo dito ay yung trabaho ni Dr. Cortez to fight corruption sa National Center for Mental Health. ‘Yung kanyang reform na talagang inimplement nya (It appears that Dr. Cortez’ fight against corruption at the NCMH is the motive behind his killing)…that is food, shelter, clothing and medication para sa mga patients,” Monsalve said.

“Dahil doon sa reform na yun, meron syang nakita na mga anomaly at doon na na-expose yung mga anomaly at nagkaroon ng imbestigasyon yung NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) Anti-Graft Division, hanggang sa mga nasampahan ng kaso (Because he wanted to carry out reforms at the NCMH, he discovered several anomalies that led to the investigation and filing of charges),” he added.

In 2019, Cortez reportedly filed a complaint against 14 individuals for graft and malversation.

“Hanggang sa nagsimula na magkaroon ng pagbabanta. Hanggang sa nagkaroon tayo ng witness mismo doon sa loob ng NCMH na ito, sila nagkunstabahan (Then the threats came. We have an insider witness who said people inside NCMH conspired with one another),” Monsalve added.

“So ito pong thorough investigation na ginawa po ng QCPD…nakita po natin na talagang may basehan yung kaso na isinampa natin against sa suspects (Based on our investigation, there is  basis to file charges against the suspects),” Montejo said.

Monsalve added that aside from the seven suspects, they are still identifying more suspects “who might be involved in the conspiracy to commit murder.”

The suspects

According to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Major Gen. Debold Sinas, police identified the mastermind and the other suspects based on “affidavits, testimonies and declaration” of several individuals.

The QPCD said they launched a probe after they were able to identify the owner of the getaway vehicle used by one of the gunmen.

“Doon po nagsimula yung pagiimbestiga natin. Pinuntahan yung mga address, lumalabas na isa nga doon sa mga primary suspect ay yung nakilala natin (That’s where we started our investigation. We went to the addresses provided us, where we found one of the suspects),” Monsalve said.

Police said the owner of the getaway vehicle, who also has pending warrants of arrest for drugs and frustrated murder charges, has implicated three others.

The QCPD said, one of the gunmen is the bodyguard of the ranking NCMH official, the alleged mastermind.

“Before the incident, itong tatlong ito nakita na kausap [ng ranking NCMH official] (these three persons were seen talking with the ranking NCMH offical),” Monsalve said, referring to the two gunmen and the owner of the getaway vehicle.

Police said that of the seven suspects, only Albert Eugenio who has a pending warrant of arrest for murder has been arrested.