Love triangle, drugs eyed in killing of woman in Cebu

Published April 20, 2021, 11:43 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – Love triangle and illegal drug trade.

These are the angles that the police are looking into as possible motives in the killing of Ritchie Nepomuceno, the woman who accused 11 policemen of rape and extortion.

LOVE TRIANGLE? Police from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) examine the body of Ritchie Nepomuceno, who was shot dead by unidentified assailants Monday night, April 19, in Barangay Basak, Cebu City. (Photo courtesy of Benjie Talisic / MANILA BULLETIN)

Police Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, deputy chief for operations of the Cebu City Police Office, said love triangle may have something to do with the killing after the woman reportedly agreed to return to her estranged husband.

“We are also focusing on love triangle considering that on the day she was killed, she and her husband were already texting each other and she was asking if they can live together again,” Parilla said.

The illegal drug angle also came into play since Nepomuceno’s live-in partner is a drug suspect currently detained at the Cebu City Jail.

“There were reports that the woman took over their illegal drug business after her live-in partner was arrested,” said Parilla.

Parilla said Nepomuceno’s name would usually surface during tactical interrogations of arrested drug suspects.

Nepomuceno was gunned down while standing along a road in Barangay Basak-Pardo around 6 p.m. Monday.

Nepomuceno accused 11 anti-narcotics operatives of the Sawang Calero Police Station of extortion.

The woman also accused one of the policemen, Staff Sgt. Celso Colita, of raping her twice.

Colita allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the head about three hours after Nepomuceno was gunned down.

Parilla said they were also investigating reports that Nepomuceno and Colita were actually lovers.

Police Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo, chief of the Police Regional Office-Central Visayas, has instructed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-7 to help investigate the murder of Nepomuceno.

Meantime, Commission on Human Rights-Central Visayas (CHR 7) chief investigator Leo Villarino said Nepomuceno was threatened through text messages by Colita.

Though he was not able to read the text message, Villarino said Nepomuceno was able to share to him the threat.

“Magbantay lang gyud ka kay kuhaon gyud tika bahala’g asa ka magtago, makitan ra gyud tika (Watch out because I will really get you. Wherever you hide, I will find you),” said Villarino quoting the supposed text messages that the policeman sent to Nepomuceno.

Villarino said Nepumoceno turned down the offer for her to be placed in the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

“We already advised her to avail of the Witness Protection Program but she was not willing to, and we cannot force her if that’s her choice. Probably, she was already at ease because the accused are already under camp restriction,” Villarino.

The CHR 7 is investigating the alleged abuses committed by Colita and the 10 policemen as well as the supposed secret detention cell of the Sawang Calero Police Station where the accused were previously assigned.

Villarino said the death of Nepomuceno is a “major setback” in the case.

“This is a major setback because Ritchie was our main complainant against the police officers. We’re hoping other witnesses to stand so we can still pursue our investigations,” said Villarino.

Aside from Nepomuceno, there were two other complainants against the 11 policemen.

Police Major Glenn Hife, chief of the Regional Drug Enforcement Group, said that with the death of Nepomuceno, the criminal charges against the 10 policemen may be dropped but the administrative complaints will continue.