Police on Wednesday tagged Army Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III as the mastermind in the killing of businesswoman Yvonette Plaza last December.
The Special Investigation Task Force Plaza, which held a press conference in Davao City, identified six more soldiers as suspects in the killing.
Region XI Police chief Brig. Gen. Benjamin Silo said the killing was a “crime of passion,” as Durante – a former head of the Presidential Security Group — was reported to be in a relationship with Plaza, whom he said was only a “friend.”
Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said Durante, who led the PSG under President Rodrigo Duterte, has been relieved as commander of the 1001st Brigade “to give way to an impartial and thorough investigation.
“The Philippine Army will not condone any criminal act committed by its personnel,” Brawner said.
“The Army ensures the public that this incident is not service related.”
Durante earlier denied involvement in the killing of Plaza, saying his name was being dragged because of a Facebook post made by Plaza in April last year.
“Yvonne was a friend. My name is being dragged based on an FB post made last April 2022 wherein I allegedly hurt her. She later retracted the post and issued a statement that I did not in any way harm her,” Durante had said.
“I am deeply saddened by her demise and condole with her family and friends. I, myself, demand justice for Yvonne,” he added.
Plaza was found bloodied and lifeless outside her residence on December 28, 2022.
A screenshot of CCTV footage showed one of the suspects pointing a gun at her while the other was waiting on their getaway motorcycle.