By GERRY LEE GORIT
and MARK FRANCISCO
CAGAYAN de Oro City--A suspected gun-for-hire was tagged as one of the hitmen who shot to death the head of a state-run university last December, police said on Friday afternoon.
Police identified the arrested person as 33-year-old Johnreal Gamanay. He also goes by the names Junrell Gamanay, Alejandro Ceniza, and Jun Putot. He was charged with murder.
According to the Cagayan de Oro City police office, Gamanay was identified as one of the assassins of Dr. Ricardo Rotoras, then president of University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP), who was killed last Dec. 2.
The murder complaint was filed because Gamanay, who was from Zamboanga del Sur, admitted during the unrelated case interrogation that he killed someone in Cagayan de Oro last December.
With the arrest of Gamanay, the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Rotoras has considered the case closed, but is still looking for the mastermind.
SITG Rotoras spokesperson Chief Insp. Mardi Hortillosa said though that under Philippine National Police (PNP) rules, a case is considered closed once a criminal complaint is filed before the prosecutor.
SITG Rotoras is led by the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as members. Rotoras was gunned down on December 2 at his residence in barangay Carmen.
Exactly two months into the assassination last February 2, police filed a murder complaint against Gamanay who was arrested in Makati City last January 12 in an unrelated Ozamiz City-based case.
That month, SITG Rotoras concluded that the two gunmen in Rotoras’ ambush were not natives of Cagayan de Oro since they used a pickup truck-for-hire as getaway.
“Homegrown killers usually commandeer motorcycles so they can easily maneuver around in their getaway. But in this case, they hired a driver so they could speedily navigate their escape,” Hortillosa said in December.
The identities of the pickup truck driver and the second hitman are still to be determined.
In his recent interview, Hortillosa admitted that they could not yet tag a mastermind because both Gamanay and person of interest Rey Galua have not yet admitted that they know each other.
Galua, who is in hospital detention, was arrested last January on an unrelated case. He was tagged as the primary person of interest in Rotoras’ murder because of the legal entanglements between the two.
Galua used to be the lead architecture professor in USTP before the school’s board booted him out in 2016. The project that he designed – the USTP Education Complex and Student Center – was put on hold a month after.
Meanwhile, Gamanay remains detained in Ozamiz City.
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