The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it is close to identifying the mastermind in the slaying of University of Sto. Tomas (UST) student Mark Welson Chua Jr. as it revealed that the carpet used to wrapped the victim’s body belonged to the school’s Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC) unit.
This, as two new witnesses surfaced to tag as accomplices to the March 18 killing of Chua, four other persons including three UST students who are ROTC cadet officers. They have been included in the murder case filed by the Department of Justice.
"No, not yet. But it is now 95-percent solved," said NBI Anti-Organized Crime Division (AOCD) chief, Samuel Fiji, when asked about the implication of the identification of the four new suspects and the solution of the case.
Fiji made the assurance as Chua’s father, Mark Welson Sr., revealed that the carpet wrapped around his 19-year-old son belonged to the Department of Military Science and Tactics (DMST) of UST which handles ROTC training in the school.
The decomposing body of Chua was found floating in Pasig River last May 18, days after his disappearance. His abductors had pretended to demand ransom from the Chua family to mislead investigators.
The new suspects were identified by NBI acting chief Deputy Director Lolito Utitco as Michael Von Rainrad Managbao, Eduardo Tabrilla, Paul Joseph Tan, and Patrick Christopher Cruz. Earlier, the NBI charged Genesis Binagatan, a supposed official of the UST-DMST for the killing.
One of the witnesses said he saw the victim alive lying on his belly, hogtied, on the night he disappeared. The four new accused were all reportedly present in the office at the time.
"We are hoping that these new suspects would finally name the mastermind," the elder Chua told The STAR. Asked if he has any idea as to who masterminded the slaying, Mark Welson Sr. smiled and said "the carpet belonged to the ROTC office, right?"
Mark Welson Sr. said suspect Tan, a friend of his elder daughter, was the one who invited his son to the DMST office. With the exception of Cruz, the new suspects are all UST ROTC cadet officers whose ages range from 19 to 21. — Jose Aravilla