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BACOLOD CITY, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2 - 7:49 p.m.) A suspect in the murder of a broadcaster in Negros Occidental was arrested early Wednesday morning, police said.
Noel Guimeroy was arrested around 6 a.m. in Barangay Tinungan in Isabela town on the strength of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Felipe Banzon of the Silay City regional trial court, Chief Inspector Cresenciano Cordero of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the province said.
Another suspect, former militiaman Joel Calungsod, remains at large.
Both have been charged with murder.
Guimeroy’s arrest came two weeks before the first death anniversary of Niel “Lito” Jimena, who was gunned down in E.B. Magalona town on August 22 last year.
“He was very cooperative and his wife said he was actually expecting us,” Cordero said.
Cordero said eyewitnesses have identified Guemiroy as one of two men riding a motorcycle who chased down Jimena and shot him with automatic pistols in Barangay Tabigue.
Cordero said Guimeroy denied his participation in the murder although he admitted knowing Calungsod.
“He even told us that Calungsod called him some two weeks ago asking about the sale of fighting cocks,” the CIDG officer said.
At a press conference at the CIDG provincial office here, Guimeroy claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity and had been framed up by one of the witnesses. And asked if he did know Calungsod, he refused to answer saying this was on the advise of his lawyer.
Guimeroy also appealed for pity from authorities and those who identified him saying he has a wife and four children.
But CIDG Western Visayas director Senior Superintendent Eddie Benigay said witnesses have positively identified Guimeroy as the one who drove the motorcycle and Calungsod as the gunman in the murder of Jimena.
Benigay said Jimena was likely killed because of his work as a broadcaster.
Jimena, a resident of La Paz, Iloilo City, was a former informant of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and worked as a radio blocktime host, anchoring several programs in Iloilo radio stations for a business tycoon in that city.
He escaped a slay try in 2010.
The investigation of Task Force 3rd District, which was former after the murder of Jimena and other killings in that district of Negros Occidental, showed the broadcaster had told his live-in partner he suspected a government official was behind death threats he had been receiving.
Task Force chief, Supt. Samuel Mina, earlier said the gunmen could not be from Negros Occidental since they did not bother to conceal their identities with masks during the killing.
Jimena's brother, Mike, thanked the CIDG for their persistence in pursuing the killers.
“We are very happy that they managed to arrest him two weeks before our brother’s death anniversary,” he told local radio station dyEZ Aksyon Radyo-Bacolod.
Cordero said the arrest of Guemiroy is a result of the intensified campaign ordered by CIDG chief, Director Samuel Pagdilao, against killers of journalists in the country.
The killing of Jimena was the latest incident that took place in Negros Occidental.
Before the Jimena murder, radio correspondent Danny Llasos was shot and killed in Bacolod City on May 11, 1998.
However, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility reported that his killing was unlikely to be job-related.