By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has identified two dismissed police officers as the alleged masterminds in the killing of beauty pageant candidate Geneva Lopez and her Israeli boyfriend Yitzhak Cohen.

Ranking police officials and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. presented suspects Michael Guiang and Rommel Abuzo to the media in a briefing in Camp Crame on Monday.

PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Maj. Gen. Leo Francisco, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said a land dispute was the motive of the killing after Lopez attempted to take the parcel of land pawned to her by Guiang over his failure to pay back the money he owes the beauty queen.

Investigation showed Guiang convinced Lopez to meet a supposed buyer of the parcel of land in Capas, Tarlac on June 21.

The CIDG chief said unknown to Lopez, Guiang connived with Abuzo for him to pose as the buyer.

“From that point nagkita sila sa Barangay Armenia at binaril ng dalawang dating pulis na ito ang magkasintahan. So makikita niyo (they met in Barangay Armenia and the two former police officers shot the couple. You’ll see) it’s a planned activity. Sa aming imbestigasyon ay nag usap si Guiang at Abuzo tungkol sa gagawin nila sa magnobyo na ito (Based on our investigation, Guiang and Abuzo planned how they would deal with the couple), so there was that plan of killing itong magnobyo na ito (the couple). Ayaw ibigay ni Guiang yung lupa na isinangla niya kay Geneva (Guiang doesn’t want to give to Geneva the land he pawned),” Francisco said.

The couple succumbed to gunshot wounds, based on the results of the autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation.

Francisco said the surrender of another person of interest (POI), alias ‘Jun Jun’, led to the identification of the suspects as he narrated the events that occurred on the day the couple was killed.

‘Jun Jun’, who served as Guiang’s driver, revealed the location of the couple’s remains. These were later exhumed by authorities in Barangay San Vicente in Capas town on July 6.

Abalos said Guiang and Abuzo are now under police custody.

The CIDG chief, meanwhile, said a manhunt is underway against two other persons who allegedly assisted Abuso and Guiang in carrying out the couple’s murder.

PNP chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil assured that the police would file airtight cases against those involved in the killing of Lopez and Cohen.

He said the two former police officers would be charged with two counts of murder.

Abalos, meanwhile, said two more cases would be filed against Guiang and Abuzo — charges of illegal possession of firearms and illegal possession of explosives as a result of follow-up operations that resulted in their arrest.

Abuzo and Guiang were dismissed from the police service in 2019 and 2020, respectively, for being AWOL (absent without official leave). (PNA)