BISLIG City -- Mayor Librado Navarro here has denied the suspected gunman in the murder of broadcaster Christopher Iban Lozada was his former driver and close aide.
Navarro however clarified the alleged gunman Rolly Mahilum is just one of the more than 20 drivers of the city hall who was hired after the May 2016 elections after the driver of the ambulance resigned from work.
Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Egco said on Monday that a
witness had pointed Mahilum as the gunman in the killing of Lozada, a hard-hitting commentator of Prime Broadcasting Network in Bislig on October 24 last year.
Egco said the witness positively identified the suspect on February 25 when the latter was going through photos of Lozada on a laptop of the slain broadcaster’s staffer.
But Navarro, who denied any hand in the killing, said he did not personally know Mahilum since he just called him during emergencies whenever there are request from residents for a driver of the ambulance or utility vans assigned at the City General Services Office.
“We hired him when the ambulance driver resigned after the election since we did not find any criminal record from Rolly,”the mayor said.Ï would say he is a soft-spoken good man and I doubt if he could even handle a gun.”
Navarro said Mahilum is still actively working at the City Hall after he took a week-long leave of absence on November 7 last year after having relationship problems with his wife.
Egco said PTFoMS could not yet hold Navarro accountable to Lozada’s death since the witness just tagged Mahilum as suspect.He said PTFoMS would file appropriate charges against Mahilum.
Lozada, 29, was killed while he was on his way home with his girlfriend, Honey Faith Toyco, who survived the attack.
Shortly before he was killed, Lozada posted on Facebook that he had been receiving death threats.
Egco said that on November 7, 2017, the PTFOMS “coordinated the implementation of two search warrants” at the residences of Mahilum and a certain Felixberto Villocino Jr., who was tagged as an alleged accomplice of Mahilum.
Superintendent Cesar Paday-os of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) led the search operation, but was “curiously” relieved from his position a day after the warrants were implemented, Egco said.
Authorities also found that the gunmen’s alleged suspected getaway vehicle, a Toyota HiAce van with plate number SFJ 951, is supposedly owned by the Bislig City government.