De Lima urges NBI to take over probe of sniper assassinations


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is alarmed at the prevalence of sniper assassinations in the country following the recent killings of three radio personalities who were reportedly murdered by snipers.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the killings of radio blocktimer Reynante “Rey” Cortes last July 22 and lawyer-radio hosts Hilda Mahinay-Sapie and her husband Muhaimen Mohammad Sapie last July 14 should prompt the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to take-over investigation of sniper assassinations.

“Nakakabahala ang dalawang magkasunod na balita na sniper ang pumatay sa tatlong radio personalities, dalawa sa Davao at isa naman sa Cebu,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1105.

“Aside from their chilling effect on radio personalities and the media in general, the three consecutive murders tell us that other than the usual riding-in-tandem modus, snipers are now being used as assassins as well,” she added.

Cortes, who issued political commentaries on his program over DYRB Radio Pilipinas Cebu called “Engkwentro,” was reportedly shot dead by yet unidentified assailant/s shortly after coming out of the radio station in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City last Thursday.

Police were said to be looking at Cortes’ work as a hard-hitting commentator as a possible motive in the killing of the radio personality who, years ago, survived an earlier attempt on his life.

Meanwhile, Mahinay-Sapie and her husband Mohammad Sapie were reportedly killed by a sniper in front of their residence in Davao on July 14.

The couple notably hosted a program where they gave free legal advice over 94.7 Power Radio Davao dxLL.

De Lima said that what she finds troubling is the idea that not just anyone can be a sniper, saying that snipers are exclusively highly-skilled military or police personnel, trained in the AFP or PNP special forces.

“These killers should be easy to trace. All that one needs is a roster of all trained snipers of the AFP and PNP, both in the active service or retired, with focus on those with extensive combat experience and those dishonorably discharged from the service,” she said.

“This does not mean that the assassins are conclusively from the AFP or PNP, but it is a place to start the investigations, rather than simply add these cases to the PNP’s list of unsolved crimes. Better yet, the NBI should take over the investigation of high-profile assassinations, whether involving snipers or riding-in-tandems,” she added.

Whether the assets of PNP or AFP are deployed by the government to carry out state-sponsored assassinations or hired as freelance assassins, De Lima stressed that the trade “has to stop or no one will be safe.”

“It does not take rocket science to figure out that highly skilled and highly trained assets of the AFP and/or PNP are now being used in the lucrative EJK business, made profitable and ordinary under the Duterte regime,” she said. (30)

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