The prime suspect in the murder of DXBF Prime Broadcasting Network operations manager and anchor Christopher “Chris Rapido” Lozada in October 2017 was arrested by elements of the Surigao Del Sur Police Provincial Office recently.
A report sent to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security Secretariat in Malacañang said that suspect Rolly Mahilum was arrested on March 23, 2020, 8 p.m., at P-2, Barangay San Vicente 2, Tagbina in a joint operation against a wanted person led by Bislig City Police Chief PLtCol. Wilson Corpus and RSOG-ORD PLtCol. Gil Torralba.
Earlier, warrants of arrest were issued against Mahilum by Judge Merlyn Pacaro-Canedo of the Bislig City Regional Trial Court Branch 29 under Criminal Case nos. 2020-205973 to 74-B for the murder of Lozada and frustrated murder of Honey Faith Toyco, Lozada’s companion during the shooting.
“Even at this time of national emergency, our law enforcers are still relentlessly pursuing suspects in cases of violence against media workers. We commend the continuing efforts of the Philippine National Police in bringing to justice these fugitives from the law,” PTFoMS Co-Chair and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said.
Meanwhile, the PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Egco was elated, saying the continued monitoring of all media killings by the PTFoMS are now reaping more arrests and convictions of perpetrators.
“PTFoMS never sleeps on its job. Despite the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, our partner in the Task Force, the PNP, did not allow this national state of calamity to hamper its efforts in effecting the arrest of Mahilum,” Egco said.
A Motion for Reconsideration earlier filed by Mahilum was denied by Surigao City Acting Prosecutor Joan Francis Alas-Esmero who found “no cogent reason to reverse her resolution finding probable cause for the indictment of respondent for murder and frustrated murder”.
Esmero, who handled the preliminary investigation of the case, said in a Resolution dated 13 January 2020 that the evidence submitted against the suspect was sufficient to support the conclusion that he is probably one of the assailants.
Mahilum was positively identified by Toyco who was with Lozada when he was murdered on 24 October 2017. They were on their way home when a vehicle tailing them suddenly bumped their car. The alleged gunman opened fire at Lozada with three successive gunshots. Toyco was seriously wounded and is now under the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ.
Egco said that PTFoMS will see to it that justice will be served to Lozada’s killers. He added that the PTFoMS, as always, shall continue to monitor and inform the public on the developments of the media killings cases and threats against media workers.