Rolly Mahilum (Photo courtesy of PTFoMS)

MANILA – Elements of the Surigao del Sur Provincial Police Office arrested Rolly Mahilum, the prime suspect in the murder of DXBF Prime Broadcasting Network operations manager and anchor Christopher “Chris Rapido” Lozada (Lozada) in October 2017.

According to a report received by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), Mahilum was arrested on Monday morning (March 23) at P-2, Barangay San Vicente 2, Tagbina in a joint operation by Bislig City Police chief, Lt. Col. Wilson Corpus, and Police Lt. Col. Gil Tiado Torralba of the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG).

Earlier, Judge Merlyn Pacaro-Canedo of the Bislig City Regional Trial Court Branch 29 issued warrant of arrest against Mahilum for the murder of Lozada and frustrated murder of Lozada’s companion, Honey Faith Toyco.

“Even at this time of national emergency, our law enforcers are still relentlessly pursuing suspects in cases of violence against media workers. We commend the continuing efforts of the Philippine National Police in bringing to justice these fugitives from the law,” PTFoMS co-chair and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said.

Meanwhile, PTFoMS executive director, Undersecretary Jose Joel Sy Egco expressed elation, saying the PTFoMS’ continued monitoring of all media killings in the country is now reaping more arrests and convictions of perpetrators.

“PTFoMS never sleeps on its job. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our partner in the Task Force, the PNP, did not allow this national state of calamity to hamper its efforts in effecting the arrest of Mahilum,” Egco said.

Mahilum earlier filed motion for reconsideration but it was denied by Surigao City Acting Prosecutor Joan Francis Alas-Esmero who found “no cogent reason to reverse her resolution finding probable cause for the indictment of respondent for murder and frustrated murder”.

Esmero, who handled the preliminary investigation of the case, said the evidence submitted against the suspect was sufficient to support the conclusion that he is probably one of the assailants.

Mahilum was positively identified by Toyco who was with Lozada when the radio anchor was murdered on October 24, 2017 while on their way home by a gunman on board a vehicle. Toyco survived and is now under the witness protection program of the Department of Justice.

Egco said PTFoMS will see to it that justice will be served to Lozada’s killers.

He added that the PTFoMS, as always, shall continue to monitor and inform the public on the developments of the media killings cases and threats against media workers in the country. (PR)