WITNESSES MUST BE PROTECTED: Why police decline to name Diergos murder suspects

Col Gilbert Gorero

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Until arrest warrants are issued, the public will not hear from the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) the names of persons charged for the murder of businesswoman Claire Diergos.

Naming of suspects while the case is still at the level of prosecution is deemed premature, IPPO director Colonel Gilbert Gorero said.

Far from hiding or even shielding the suspects, “our main concern now is how to protect our witnesses,” he said.

Despite the sealed lips and refusal to provide copies of the complaint sheet and affidavits, the documents found their way to several radio stations, which led to a ‘name-a-thon’ of sorts on social media.

Copies of the complaint and affidavits are with the Special Investigation Team Diergos and the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office where the case was filed.

Gorero said he only wished the public knew the lengths they had to go through to convince the witnesses to give their testimonies.

Majority of them have apprehensions of testifying in court. Some backed down but went back to the table after being convinced by investigators that their identities would not be prematurely divulged, and their families would not be put in harm’s way.

Testimonies from 10 witnesses led the police to charge 10 suspects. Eight suspects were named in the crime of murder with evident premeditation.

Two of the suspects are females while the rest are males. Two other suspects – a man and a woman – remain unidentified.

Gorero admitted that one of the witnesses already contacted them and has asked for police protection.

“He was disappointed kay pati balay nya gina-describe. Now, he fears for their safety. He was asking that their statement could have been tackled once the arrest warrant was issued against the suspects,” he said.

Gorero said the police, Diergos’ family, and the public only want one thing – justice.

“I don’t know how prematurely naming the accused, sans the arrest warrant, could help us in attaining justice,” he said.

The Iloilo police chief added, “we are asking for a little more until the arrest warrant will be issued. I hope, it wouldn’t be too much to ask.”

Earlier, the IPPO said the reason why they did not disclose the identities of the suspects was to avoid pre-empting the findings of the investigating prosecutor.

The case is yet to be filed in court and remains in the disposition of prosecuting fiscal.

“Other than this, based on FOI (Exemption to right of Access to information) para 4, states: Information deemed confidential or for the protection of the privacy of persons and certain individuals such as minors, victims of crime or the accused,” the statement added.

On top of that, witnesses who might be qualified for the “Witness Protection Program” could be determined when case is officially filed in court after determining probable cause.”

Gorero also pointed out that there are some legal issues that must be ironed out before they jumped into naming those suspects who are still under the preliminary investigation.