CABANATUAN CITY – Another conspirator tagged in the murder of Catholic priest Fr. Richmond Nilo in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija last June 10 was arrested by the police in Maddela, Quirino last Friday.
The arrested suspect, one of eight who had been earlier charged before a Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch here, was identified as Bernie Limpio, 35, of Arayat, Pampanga. He was nabbed during an anti-drug operation in a barangay in Maddela where he went into hiding after he was named in the killing of the priest.
Limpio’s arrest brought to five the number of suspects who are now detained. They are Manuel Torres, Omar Mallari, Rolando Garcia and Marius Albis. Torres is said to be the mastermind while Mallari the gunman.
The eight suspects were charged under Criminal Case No. 29063-F after OIC provincial prosecutor Eddie Gutierrez conducted preliminary investigations last June 29 and July 2, and came up later with an inquest resolution and information.
Nilo, 44, then parish priest of Zaragoza, was about to say Mass in a chapel in Barangay Mayamot, that town, when gunned down.
Last July 2, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, in a press briefing in Camp Crame, identified the mastermind as Manuel Torres who allegedly hired a killer to shoot Father Nilo.
Albayalde said it was Mallari, the arrested “self-confessed gunman”, who pointed to Torres as the person who “hired” him to kill the priest.
Mallari, 25, was arrested by the police in Barangay Arenas, Arayat, Pampanga last June 29. Police Director Roel Obusan, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), disclosed that the investigators traced the whereabouts of Mallari through the plate number of a vehicle caught in a CCTV footage when Fr. Nilo was killed.
Garcia and Albis surrendered to the authorities after being named as suspects in the killing of Fr. Nilo.
In another statement, Central Luzon police director Chief Supt. Amador Corpus said the suspected killer revealed that Torres promised to pay him P100,000 to kill Nilo but that only P80,000 was paid. He added that Torres allegedly wanted Nilo killed “because the priest supported a rape case against his nephew.”
In his executed extrajudicial confession in the presence of his mother and a lawyer from the Public Attorney’s Office, Torres named his accomplices.
The complainants in the murder charges, according to the police, was Father Noel Jetajobe, et. al, Jetajobe is a member of the board of consultors in the chancery of the Diocese of Cabanatuan.
Still at large and being hunted by the police are Rolly Sigua, Arlan Maniacup Sr., and Michael Ocampo.
Limpio, who is in the custody of the Maddela police, reportedly admitted his participation in the killing of Fr. Nilo and received P8,000 for the job.