Now it can be told. At least thirty undercover intel police operatives acted cohesively to arrest Renato Llenes, the second and perhaps the “true suspect” of the gruesome murder of Christine Lee Silawan.
Regional Police Director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas said the arrest of Llenes was a coordinated effort of the members of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Christine Lee Silawan but those who really worked doubly hard were Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO) Director Police Colonel Limuel Obon and 30 of his men from the City Intelligence Branch (CIB) and its Investigation and Detection Management Branch (IDMB).
Obon said right after Silawan’s dead body was discovered last March 11 in Barangay Bankal, his operatives worked right away.
One of his key men is Police Lt. Col. Mark Gifter Sucalit, the CIB chief, who
coordinated with the operatives of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) of Col. Remus Medina and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-7) led by Lt. Col. Lito Patay.
Obon said their case build-up did not come easy as there was no actual eye-witness of the crime. A person with disability came forward and claimed seeing the incident but her version did not fit to what actually happened. In the process of elimination, the testimony was not given weight.
The SITG went on to gather some physical evidence like the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) footages and the cellphone which Christine used. The phone which was turned over by the Silawan family was very useful as it led to the Facebook (FB) account of the victim. The FB account established a very important part in the case build-up and investigation as it also led to the discovery of the account of a certain CJ Diaz.
The operatives found out that CJ Diaz was the boyfriend of the victim, through their internet chat exchanges, the last person to have chatted to her before she was found dead.
In their last chat, Diaz was able to communicate to the victim that they would meet in the vicinity of the Sacred Heart Parish in Barangay Pajac where the victim served then as church alms collector.
That FB ties between the suspect and the victim were not enough however so they explore on the CCTV footages starting from where Llenes picked up the victim up to the Pacific Villa Subdivision, near the vacant lot in Barangay Bankal where Silawan’s flayed body was found.
At first, the SITG members had a hard time in identifying the person who was with Christine Lee in the CCTV footages but with the help of a private individual who is a technical expert in enhancing CCTV footages, they were able to clearly identify the person.
Obon admitted that their morale went down for a while when the National Bureau of Investigation first arrested the 18-year-old (he was 17 when arrested) former boyfriend of Christine Lee prompting them to regroup and reassess.
In their case conference, Obon revealed they did some “backtracking technique” where they tried to find out if indeed the 18-year-old from Maribago was the one seen with the victim in the CCTV footages. Obon disclosed he even went out of his way to find out the identity of the person by asking Christine’s friends and classmates during her wake. That proved to be effective, Obon said, as all of them agreed that it was not the 18-year-old who was in the footage but someone else who was older. With that lead, Obon and his men looked for other people who could identify the person until they find one who later on was corroborated by others.
That person they found out was Llenes and so they tracked him down. They finally arrested him last April 9, Araw ng Kagitingan, a public holiday, where the suspect thought it would not happen as government workers will not report for work. Herewith below is the timeline that resulted in the arrest of Renato Llenes:
March 11- the discovery of the dead body of Christine Lee Silawan in Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City
March 12- PRO-7 created Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Christine Lee Silawan
March 16- the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested the 17-year-old former boyfriend of the victim. The suspect, who just turned 18, is now in the custody of the Homecare for Children Center (HCC) of the Lapu-Lapu City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO)
March 18- charges of murder in relation to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act was filed against the 18-year-old before the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office
March- 22- order of release of the 18-year-old from the HCC as his lawyer Vincent Isles filed an Omnibus Motion To Release to the prosecutor’s office. Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor Ruso Zaragoza granted the motion as the arrest did not fall under hot pursuit
March 23- burial of Christine Lee in the Cattleya cemetery in Cordova. The 18-year-old was also released in the HCC
March 26- Pres. Duterte ordered Zaragoza to re-arrest the 18-year-old but instead of the re-arrest, the prosecutor convinced the parent of the suspect and his lawyer that he would voluntarily go back to custody in the HCC for his safety
March 27- SITG Silawan got the breakthrough of their investigation when they identified the suspect as Llenes
-Excerpt of the interview (EOTI) with Col. Obon-
“Last week sa March probably mga 25 o 27 nakakuha na mi ug witness nga identifying him as Renato Llenes. Identified na namo siya.Ang among problema na lang kung asa siya. So gi-manhunt namo”
April 4- operatives posted around his house in Barangay Bankal since they got an information that one of his children had a moving up ceremony in school.
“Then pagka April 4 ang usa niya ka anak naay recognition sa Bankal, April 4. So giatangan namo didto nga basin mupauli. Gi-postingan na namo tanan.”
April 8- staking out in the house of Llenes after they received an intel report that he is leaving for Bohol. Prior to their operation, they agreed in a case conference that the suspect might drop by in his house to bade goodbye to his children. Llenes they found out had a soft-spot, “his love for his children”
“April 8 ng gabii nag meeting mi diri with my intel kay sabi ko kampante ni siya kay ugma holiday. Muingon siya nga walay polis. So giatangan namo sa Mandaue, Cebu City ug didto duol sa iyahang balay naa miy gitawag nga observation post. Atbang mismo sa iyang balay kung asa ang iyang mga anak”
April 9- the actual arrest of Renato Llenes past 3pm in Barangay Bankal as he was visibly seen tucking a .45 caliber firearm in his waist. Since it is an election period, the possession of the pistol was a clear violation of the “gun ban”
“Katung hapon na sa April 9 among gi postehan na kay thinking nga muduaw na siya. Ang among original plan was kung makit-an siya pasudlon didto sa balay, i contain namo ang area then apply for a search warrant arun ma legal ang among dakop unya kay pagkuan niya ug iyang back pack kanang iyang movement ba nakita man ang pulo sa pistol ang judgment sa mga tawo dakupon na nato”
After his arrest, Llenes with the assistance of counsels executed an extra judicial confession admitting to the crime. With that, and the recovered pieces of evidence which are now tested in the crime laboratory for traces of human blood belonging to the victim, there is somehow a strong case against the suspect. On how the long hands of the law caught him, Brig. Gen. Sinas put it thus, “If we have concerted efforts,
we could really solve kasi it. Kasi kini it takes time imagine how many weeks to one month walay tulogan, no let up kay kung nasugdan we have process of elimination, process of investigation, so mao tung nagkuan, until nag focus sa usa ka tawo.That is what really happened. I am very happy, the Chief PNP is very happy and convinced.”
May justice be serve to Christine Lee Silawan. Let’s see.