DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Despite his earlier denial, Army Brigadier General and former Presidential Security Group head Jesus Durante III is named the mastermind in the killing of model and entrepreneur Yvonne Chua Plaza last December 29.
The police Special Investigation Task Force (SITG) identified Durante, six other soldiers, and three civilians as accomplices in its report released in a press conference on Wednesday, January 25.
Implicated are Colonel Col. Michael D. Licyayo, Staff Sergeant Gilbert P. Plaza, Sergeant Delfin Llamansares Sialsa Jr., Corporal. Adrian N. Cachero, Private First Class Rolly Cabal and Romart Longakit, a civilian Noel Japitan, an alias Master Sergeant and alias Junior.
Durante, commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade, was identified as the mastermind who planned the murder of Plaza, based on the statement of the alleged gunman Sialsa who confessed to the investigation, according to the SITG report.
Philippine National Police Region XI Gen. Benjamin Silo said that the evidence they gathered showed there was a relationship between Durante and Plaza.
“We were able to recover the MacBook from the house of the victim containing photos and email messages of General Durante,” Major Eudisan Gultiano, the task force spokesperson added.
Silo added that the murder was “a crime of passion.”
“Based on the testimony of the witnesses, there were instances that Durante got jealous but we are looking into other factors that led to this senseless killing,” he said.
The SITG report states that Durante allegedly ordered Plaza’s murder to his deputy brigade commander Michael Licyayo. Licyayo then allegedly instructed his six personnel to conduct surveillance, provided logistical information, and carried out the order.
The report identified Cachero as the driver of the motorcycle and Sialsa as the gunman while Gilbert Plaza is the team leader of the group. Cabal and Longakit are in the team assigned to do the casing and surveillance while Hapitan is the striker.
Authorities also confirmed that the weapon used in the murder was also a service firearm issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
A CCTV footage of the murder showed a riding in tandem shooting Chua at close range right outside her rented house in Green Meadows Subdivision in Mintal, Tugbok District.
Murder charges are filed against Durante and his accomplices.
Durante is also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly giving orders to burn the personal belongings of the victim which contains evidence. Licyayo and Gilbert Plaza are also charged with the same additional case. While Cachero and Sialsa will both face theft cases for taking the victim’s belongings
SITG also filed a murder case against Cabal while Japitan and Alias Jr will also be charged for being murder accomplices. A case of obstruction of justice is also filed against a certain Master Sergeant.
As of Wednesday morning, Sila said no Warrant of Arrest has been issued against the suspect since the case is currently at the prosecutor level. However, out of the seven suspects, four are currently in the custody of the division headquarters while the remaining suspects are still at large.
Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. said in a statement that Durante has been relieved as the commander of the 1001st Infantry Brigade after being named as the person of interest and “to give way to an impartial and thorough investigation.” Durante is ordered to report to the Army’s national headquarters.
Durante is the commander of the Davao de Oro-based 1001st Infantry Brigade and previously headed the Presidential Security Group (PSG) of former president Rodrigo Duterte.
Durante had denied allegations that surfaced after Plaza’s death, including the resurfacing of old photos by Plaza showing her bruised face allegedly done by him. Durante clarified to the media that he is a close friend of Plaza. (davaotoday.com)davao city, Jesus Durante III, philippines, Yvonne Plaza Chua