|Surigao tabloid columnist shot dead in Mandaluyong|
|Written by Non Alquitran|
|Wednesday, 03 May 2006 03:00|
On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, a columnist of a tabloid in Surigao was gunned down by two unidentified men in Mandaluyong City.
Police said Nicolas Cervantes, 66, of R. Aquino compound, F. Ortigas St., Acacia Lane, Barangay Hagdang Bato in Mandaluyong, was shot three times and was declared dead on arrival at a hospital.
A neighbor, Eustacio Villarente, told investigators that Cervantes had just emerged from his residence when the gunmen approached and fired at close range.
Villarente said Cervantes had earlier asked him to call for a taxi.
While waiting for a taxi, Villarente noticed two men on the other side of Ortigas street.
"Hindi ko sila pinansin. Pero nang lumabas na sa eskinita si Cervantes, sinalubong nila ito at ang nasa unahan ay humugot ng baril sa kanyang likuran at nagpaputok na (I ignored them. But when Cervantes emerged from the alley, the two men approached and one of them pulled out a gun from his back and fired)," Villarente told Superintendent Ericson Velasquez, Mandaluyong City police chief.
According to Villarente, the gunmen then walked away, leaving Cervantes slumped on the pavement.
Villarente told police the two suspects boarded a passing passenger jeepney plying the Boni-Hulo route and made good their escape.
Police investigators gathered that Cervantes, a former basketball and track and field varsity player of De La Salle University, also worked as a confidential agent of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Villarente claimed Cervantes just got a call from the BIR to report back for work when he was shot.
Cervantes' common-law wife Laura de Torrontegul claimed her live-in partner was a hard-hitting columnist of a tabloid in Surigao and other local newspapers in Mindanao.
Among his favorite topics, according to De Torrontegul, were big-time tax evaders.
Though Cervantes regularly wrote his column for Surigao, he flew to Manila to work out a schedule with the BIR and a bidding procedure of a real estate property, she told police.
But De Torrontegul is at a loss on the possible motive behind the killing of Cervantes.
"Pero baka may alam ang anak niya dahil siya palagi ang kasama ng Papa niya (perhaps his son knows because he was always with him)," she
Velasquez ruled out robbery as the motive since the assailants did not take the victim's wallet.
He asked De Torrontegul to surrender Cervantes' cellular phone for investigators to determine if the victim had been "set up."
"The killing was designed and well-planned," Velasquez said.
Cervantes was the national executive director of the BIR's Confidential Information Group.
An avid chess player, Cervantes was also president of the Surigao Chess Federation and Caraga regional director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.
He also worked as consultant of a firm manufacturing a popular brand of PVC pipes.
[Source: Philippine Star.]