By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

CASE BREAKTHROUGH. Scene of the Crime Operatives retrieve one of two bodies unearthed in a remote area of Barangay Sta. Lucia, Capas, Tarlac on Saturday (July 6, 2024). The bodies were later confirmed to be those of Pampanga beauty pageant candidate Geneva Lopez and her Israeli boyfriend, who both went missing on June 21. (Photo courtesy of CIDG)

MANILA – The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on Sunday announced another breakthrough in the investigation on the killing of beauty pageant candidate Geneva Lopez and her Israeli boyfriend with the surrender of one of the persons of interest.

“Jess,” driver of the two former cops who are the main suspects, pointed to the police the area where the bodies of Lopez, 27, and Yitzhak Cohen, 37 were buried in Barangay Sta. Lucia, Capas, Tarlac, according to a report by CIDG Director Maj. Gen. Leo Francisco.

The cadavers that were found on Saturday matched the identities of the victims, confirmed Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda who helped monitor the case as Lopez is from his province.

As per the narration of Jess, he was hired to drive a sports utility vehicle (SUV) for the two principal suspects, said to be police officers who went AWOL (absent without official leave).

He said he was surprised to see two bodies at the back of the SUV. Out of fear for his safety, he did as ordered.

Francisco said Jess is now considered a state witness but may still be charged in relation to the deaths.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government will reveal more findings about the case on Monday.

The two former officers are under the custody of the CIDG, one of them also nabbed for illegal possession of firearms.

“Isa lang siya sa mga nagbigay ng impormasyon pero tinitingnan namin kung ano pa ‘yung participation niya kaya hindi pa rin siya ‘yung sasabihin natin na off the hook kundi undergoing pa ‘yung digging up tungkol sa real participation niya (He is just one of those who gave information but we are looking at whether he has further participation so we could not say he is already off the hook. We’re still digging up his real),” Francisco told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview on Sunday.

PNP Public Information Office chief, Col. Jean Fajardo, said authorities have five persons of interest in the case.

Lopez and Cohen were last seen on June 21 before heading to Barangay Armenia in Tarlac City, allegedly to look at a property they intended to buy. (PNA)