Suspects also have pending gang-rape case
MANILA, Philippines - Former tourism official and journalist Nixon Kua died Monday night as the 4 suspects in his killing surrendered to police authorities.
Laguna police director Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz identified the suspects as John Rey Cortez, Noel Garcia, Darwin Samiano and Michael Molino.
They will be presented to the media today at Camp Vicente Lim.
Earlier yesterday, police units raided the house of the suspects in the squatter’s area of Barangay Maunong, near Greenfield Subdivision where Kua and his older brother, Allyson, live, but they evaded arrest.
Allyson was also shot by the suspects, but is now in stable condition.
Cruz said the four suspects have pending warrants of arrest for the non-bailable offense of gang-raping a minor. They are also known for other illegal activities in the area.
“The suspects appear to be raising a large amount of money to settle their case with their rape victim,” said Cruz.
Kua, 49, who was a reporter and columnist for The Philippine Star and its sister publication Pang Masa (PM), was in serious condition at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Calamba Medical Center due to a gunshot wound in the face.
The victim, who was with his wife and two children in a silver Mazda SUV with license plate PLQ-652, was parking his car near the house of his brother Allyson, 47, in Greenfield Subdivision when attacked by four armed men at around 8 p.m. Saturday at the height of a heavy downpour.
Allyson, who suffered a gunshot wound in the left shoulder, was discharged from the same hospital yesterday. Allyson was shot when he tried to help his brother.
Cruz said the robbers were positively identified by Kua’s wife Susan and 21-year-old daughter Sue Anne and son Daryl from the police photographs of crime suspects in Calamba City. Police Superintendent Leovigildo Manaig, Calamba police chief, said Task Force Kua released yesterday the photos of four robbers to media organizations.
“They immediately pointed to the pictures of the suspects as the ones they saw during the shooting and robbery operation,” said Cruz. “They are very sure.”
Governor Ejercito promised to hand over the reward money “with no questions asked” to whoever could lead police to the arrest of the suspects. Informants may text or call police at 0928-215-0645 and 0916-706-5345.
Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent James Melad said one of the suspects grabbed the bag carried by Sue Ann containing P90,000 and an Apple iPhone.
Melad said the suspects also groped Sue Anne’s neck for her necklace.
Inside job eyed
Cruz said police are investigating the eight workers doing a landscaping job at Kua’s residence, a block away from Allyson’s house.
“We are looking for an insider who could have provided information to the suspects about the payroll money and other details about the Kuas’ family,” said Cruz.
He said the eight workers were released after brief questioning.
Cruz said he would invite for questioning the contractor of the landscaping work on Kua’s house to determine whether the four suspects were among the workers he hired for the job.
Melad said the subdivision is heavily guarded and that even he, a police official, had a hard time entering.
He said the suspects could have entered the subdivision by using an improvised ladder and scaling the fence at the back of the village that is near the residence of the suspects.
Cruz said the box containing a cake that the suspects grabbed from Allyson’s housemaid was found in a grassy area along the suspects’ escape route.
Manaig said the eight workers invited for questioning were immediately released Sunday night for lack of evidence.
Cruz said police are also looking for two more workers – natives of Bicol and Quezon province – who have not reported for work for the past few days.
“We strongly believe that somebody tipped off the suspects about the fact that the victim carries a large amount of cash on Saturdays,” Cruz said.
Police are providing security around the clock for Kua at the hospital.
Melad formed Special Investigation Task Force Kua headed by Cruz to conduct a thorough investigation into the case. Melad said there was no indication that the incident had anything to do with Kua’s work as a journalist.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, meanwhile, condemned the shooting of Kua and his older brother.
Binay also asked the police to coordinate with officials of the subdivision in Laguna where Kua resides.
“I strongly condemn the shooting of Nixon Kua and his older brother at the latter’s home in Laguna,” Binay said.
Binay said the shooting of Kua, who was an official in the Estrada administration and an active participant in the protest movement against the Arroyo government, underscored the need to improve cooperation between authorities and subdivision officials in enforcing security.
“It is also high time that we strictly implement existing gun control regulations. I trust that our police will find the perpetrators soon and bring them to justice,” Binay said.
Kua was a member of President Joseph Estrada’s media bureau during the latter’s presidential campaign in 1998.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) also condemned the attack on the Kua brothers.
Arsenio Evangelista, a car dealer and member of the VACC whose son Venson was allegedly killed by carjackers in 2011, called on President Aquino to give priority to peace and order.
“Nixon Kua was shot in the face, (the bullet) exited at the ear (and he is) in serious condition now at a hospital in Calamba, Laguna. Grabe, it could happen to me and everybody. Nobody’s safe any more,” said Evangelista.
VACC president Dante Jimenez said a research conducted by their group showed an average of 60 crime incidents a week.
“The unprecedented resurgence of criminality in the country has never been as alarming as now,” he said. “And this number does not even include unreported crime from far-flung areas, based on VACC data,” said Jimenez.
The impunity and ruthlessness of criminals have worsened, he bewailed. – With Ed Amoroso, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jose Rodel Clapano, Sandy Araneta