MANILA - A witness has identified the alleged gunman in last year’s killing of Bislig City, Surigao del Sur radio anchor Christopher Lozada last year, a Palace official said Monday.
The suspect, Rolly Mahilum, was identified by the witness based on photos found in the victim's laptop, said Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS).
Lozada was on board his car with partner Honey Faith Toyco in Barangay Coleta when they were fired upon by the gunmen. Lozada died on the spot while Toyco was wounded.
Egco said Mahilum was the driver and close aide of Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro.
Navarro, who had filed a libel case against Lozada, denied involvement in the killing of the broadcaster, according to Egco.
Egco said Surigao del Sur police have also found the alleged getaway vehicle of the suspects in Lozada’s killings.
The vehicle was alleged by the police to be owned by the Bislig City government. Navarro was asked by the police investigators to verify the information but he had yet to reply to the inquiry, Egco said.
“We don’t claim that any of the [Navarro] family member is directly linked to the crime, but it depends on what Rolly Mahilum will say,” Egco said.
Mahilum remains at large and charges will soon be filed against him in connection to Lozada’s killing, Egco said.
Lozada had reportedly received threats from Navarro for filing a grave misconduct complaint against the mayor. The Office of the Ombudsman last year ordered Navarro's removal from his post over the alleged anomalous purchase of a hydraulic excavator worth P14.75 million.
Press freedom watchdogs said there have been at least 6 cases of media killings, including Lozada’s, since President Rodrigo Duterte took office. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility considers 4 of the cases as work-related.