The name of the chief suspect in the killing of tabloid columnist Jupiter Gonzales and a companion was this morning identified by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Gonzales, who writes a column for the tabloid Remate, was gunned down with Christopher Tiongson in Arayat town in Pampanga on Sunday night. Gonzales is known for his scathing criticism of illegal gambling operators in peryahan, the Filipino name for neighborhood carnivals.
Andanar in a statement named Armando Maglaya Velasco, a public relations man for a carnival in Arayat, as the alleged killer of the two men. Velasco, who will be charged with double murder, allegedly told police through his wife that he was keen to surrender.
“This proves that this administration will stop at nothing to hold perpetrators of violence against media workers to account. They can run and hide, but the long arm of the law will eventually catch up on them,” said Andanar, co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS).
The task force is responsible for keeping track of all acts of violence perpetrated against members of the media.
According to PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, they have a copy of CCTV footage allegedly showing the gunman entering Gonzales’ car.
“Our investigation showed that Gonzales knew his killer. In fact, the gunman first boarded the left backseat of the victim’s car and presumably spoke with the victims,” Egco said in a statement.
“CCTV footage shows that the gunman stepped out of the vehicle after about four minutes and opened the driver’s side in an apparent attempt to commandeer the vehicle. However, Gonzales was still able to drive 50 meters away until he hit a flower box,” Egco said.
The International Federation of Journalists has said the Philippines is one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism. A 2018 report released by the group identified at least 85 cases of assault against journalists between June 2016 and May 2018 including murders, attempted murders, death threats, online harassment, and police surveillance.