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NPA denies involvement in mediaman slay

By Bonny Q. Labalan

SORSOGON CITY ---The local command of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sorsogon province has refuted the police accusation that two of its members were responsible for the death of journalist Joebert Bercasio.

In a statement published in the NPA’s blog site on Jan. 26, Samuel Guerrero, spokesman of the Celso Minguez Command, the NPA turned the table on the Philippine National Police (PNP) saying state agents could be the ones behind the shooting to death of Bercasio on Sept. 14, 2020.

Guerrero said that the police version of the story shows its lack of interest to truly serve justice to Bercasio and betrayed the police’s failure to conduct a credible investigation into the incident.

Lt. Col. Benito Dipad, Sorsogon City police chief, had earlier declared in a press conference last Jan. 21 that they have already solved the Bercasio case with the filing of murder charge against two active members of the NPA.

The case had a breakthrough after a “walk-in witness” volunteered information that led them to the identities of the suspects, the police chief said.

However, Dipad refused to identify the suspects as well as the witness, saying they were still waiting for the warrant of arrest to be issued by the court.

He also failed to present the possible motive behind the killing, except for speculating that Bercasio could have been suspected by the rebels of being a government informer, as the journalist had become his friend and was allegedly seen frequently conversing with some military men.

The latest revelation by the PNP was far from the earlier statement of Col. Arturo Brual, Sorsogon police provincial director, that based on the initial information they had, Bercasio’s killing was likely work-related.

In a press briefing on Nov. 18 last year, Brual said that most of the possible motives that he had seen were due to the exposes Bercasio made that could have hurt some people.

The police director said at that time that he had a list of persons of interest who could have had a motive to silence Bercasio and they had been put under surveillance.

But with the new development, the police had abandoned its original track and has now focused on the alleged involvement of the NPA.

During the presscon, however, Dipad failed to present a clear picture of how the crime was committed despite the so called “walk-in witness” who supposedly provided the information that they used in filing the complaint.

In his narration, Dipad said that the witness played a vital role in the conspiracy as he acted as the spotter but the chief of police himself said that the witness did not know who the target was.

When asked how reliable the witness is, Dipad said that they have corroborated his testimony with that of other witnesses. However, Brual had earlier stated that the investigation had become difficult due to the absence of a witness.

The conflicts and inconsistencies compounded by the refusal to reveal the identities of the suspects had raised serious doubts among members of the local media on the veracity and accuracy of the police statements.

The local media assailed the evasive answers of Dipad to the questions during the press conference especially when probed on the details of the involvement of the NPA in the case.

As of this writing, no development on the complaint has been heard from the police despite the lapse of more than two weeks since its filing.

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