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DOJ okays special probe team for slain journo

DEPARTMENT of Justice DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, has approved the creation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to handle the murder case of Kidapawan City broadcaster Eduardo “Ed” Dizon who was killed on July 10, 2019.

Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) executive director, Usec. Paul M. Gutierrez, who requested for the formation of the SIT, expressed his full gratitude to the DOJ secretary for the latter’s immediate response to the request in the interest of justice. Under Administrative Order (AO) 1, series of 2016, Remulla is also the chairperson of the PTFoMS.

“After careful consideration and as Chairperson of the PTFoMS, I hereby approve the immediate creation of an AO1 SIT ED DIZON,” Remulla said in his memorandum sent to Gutierrez on April 15.

Remulla added the formation of SIT Dizon aligns with the government’s commitment to ensure justice to all victims of violence and uphold the rule of law.

“We are very thankful for the swift and immediate action of Secretary Remulla creating SIT Dizon. This again shows that the government is unrelenting in pursuing justice for all victims of heinous crimes, especially the members of the press, regardless of when the crime took place,” Gutierrez said.

Designated to head the SIT is Malolos City Prosecutor Aldrin Evangelista, who also previously handled the successful prosecution of the suspects in the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.

Gutierrez requested for the immediate creation of the SIT Dizon after the PTFoMS was belatedly informed that one of the suspects, Sotero ‘Jun’ Jacolbe, was granted bail and subsequently acquitted by the Davao Regional Trial Court last March 8.

The alleged mastermind, Dante Encarnacion Tabusares, aka, ‘Bong Encarnacion,’ was similarly allowed to post bail in the amount of P500,000.00 by Davao RTC Branch 16 presiding judge, Hon. Emmanuel Carpio last March 12, a week after his voluntary surrender at the Davao City Police Office.

The initial Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Dizon formed by the PTFoMS and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to probe the murder of Dizon in 2019 came out with 3 suspects: Encarnacion, Jacolbe, and the identified gunman who remains at large, Junell Jane Andagkit Poten, aka, ‘Junell Gerozaga.’

During the hearing last April 18, involving Encarnacion, the prosecution panel informed the court of the creation of the SIT with Evangelista expected to appear in court to represent the government on the next hearing scheduled on April 25.

In consultation with Gutierrez, Evangelista is also empowered to designate other members of the SIT coming from all government agencies who are members of the PTFoMS in a bid to further strengthen the murder case against the suspects.

“The creation of the SIT is one of the important measures the PTFoMS has adopted to bolster this case,” Gutierrez stressed, adding the task force is also closely coordinating with all its partner agencies to gather more evidence and witnesses to the crime despite the lapse of several years.

“We shall be announcing the other measures we have prepared as soon as they are finalized. But our message remains simple and clear: Perpetrators of violent crimes against the media would face the full force of the law. It may take some time but justice would prevail in the end,” Gutierrez said.

In his directive, Remulla reminded the SIT to regularly update his office on the development of the case and to conclude its tasks and formally submit its report and recommendations within 30 days.

Dizon, a radio commentator for Brigada News FM in Kidapawan City, was gunned down on the night of July 10, 2019. He sustained five bullet wounds and died on the spot.

Information gathered by the PTFoMS at the time indicate that the suspects plotted to kill Dizon over his stringent criticism of Encarnacion and the KAPA Ministry that was ordered closed by the government in 2019 for being a front for financial scam.

Encarnacion is the leader of KAPA in North Cotabato at the time.

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