MANILA – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) announced on Monday that the suspected gunman of slain broadcaster Christopher Iban Lozada has been positively identified by an eyewitness.
PTFoMS Executive Director Joel Egco said the task force’s witness has personally identified Rolly Mahilum through the photos browsed from Lozada’s laptop as the one who allegedly killed Lozada.
Egco said Mahilum is the family driver and close aide of Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro who has filed a libel case against the media man, in connection with the mayor’s involvement in a questionable hydraulic excavator deal.
According to the Philippine National Police Provincial Police Office of Surigao del Sur, Mahilum and his alleged cohort identified as Felixberto Villosino Jr. used a Bislig City government vehicle in the ambush of Lozada and his live-in partner, Honey Faith Toyco, on Oct. 24 last year.
Villosino is currently under the custody of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Region 13 while Mahilum remains at large.
Egco said appropriate charges will be filed against Mahilum.
“Rest assured that we are doing this because the government is sincere in running after anybody who threatens or who even kills journalist especially during the time of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Egco said.
Although Mahilum is still Navarro’s close aide, Egco said the task force does not claim that any member of the Navarro family “is linked to the crime”.
“It would depend on what Mahilum would say once we got him,” Egco said.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque described the development as a breakthrough in the government’s effort to solve the killing of Lozada.
“The position of the Duterte administration is that we value the freedom of the press. We value the right to life and that’s why PTFoMS was created precisely to deal with the issue of impunity and to save the lives of the medial personnel,” Roque said.
PTFoMS was created through the Administrative Order No. 1 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Oct. 11, 2016.