By: Jim Lloyd Dongiapon

Nearly a month after businesswoman and model Yvonnette “Yvonne” Chua Plaza was killed, the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) has been able to pin down eight of the ten suspects, with Brigadier General (BGen.) Jesus Durante III of the 1001st Infantry Brigade (IB) of the Philippine Army being named as the mastermind.

In a press conference held on Wednesday, January 25, SITG Spokesperson Police Major (PMaj.) Eudisan Gultiano disclosed that the shooter, Private First Class Delfin Sialsa, had admitted in his extrajudicial affidavit that BGen. Durante had planned Yvonne’s murder.

“Sialsa, in his extrajudicial affidavit, implicated the mastermind, Brigadier General Jesus Durante, the Brigade Commander of the 1001st IB,” Gultiano said.

Durante previously denied the allegations hurled against him, particularly on social media, and said in a statement that Yvonne was his friend, and he condoled with the victim’s family and friends.

“Yvonne was a friend. My name is being dragged based on an FB post made last April 2022 wherein I allegedly hurt her. She later retracted the post and issued a statement that I did not in any way harm (sic) her,” Durante said.

Six other members of the 1001st IB, including a civilian, were charged in addition to Durante and Sialsa. They are Colonel Michael Licyayo, Staff Sergeant Gilbert Plaza, Sergeant Delfin Llarenas, Corporal Adrian Cachero (Sialsa’s companion and the motorcycle driver at the time the crime was committed), Private First Class Rolly Cabal, Private First Class Romart Longakit, and Noel Hapitan.

Two other suspects have yet to be identified, and it is unclear whether they are also members of the 1001st IB or civilians.

PMaj. Gultiano added that the SITG was able to establish a relationship between Yvonne and Durante.

“We were able to recover the MacBook from the house of the victim, containing intimate photos and email messages to General Durante. Also, the victim posted on her Facebook account that she was maltreated,” the official said.

In addition, Police Colonel Alberto Lupaz, Director of the Davao City Police Office, described the murder as a “crime of passion.”

During the same press conference, BGen. Allan Hambala, Acting Commander of the 10th Infantry Division, revealed that the gun used in the crime was a service firearm issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Gultiano bared that charges have already been filed against the suspects before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Davao City.

Durante and Licyaco have both been charged with murder and obstruction of justice. Sialsa and Cachero will face murder and theft charges after it was discovered that the victim’s personal belongings, including her handbag, cellphone, ID, and credit card, were taken and intentionally burned following the incident.

Cabal was charged with murder, and Hapitan will face charges as a murder accomplice. Also, one of the unidentified suspects was charged as a murder accomplice, while the other was charged with obstruction of justice.

Atty. Arcelito Albao, Regional Director of the National Bureau of Investigation XI, assured that the suspects are currently safe in the hands of the authorities.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Army has relieved Durante of his duties to allow for the investigation of the alleged crime.  

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