Witnesses positively identify suspect in Yongco murder

Manila Bulletin/October 21, 2004
By Mars W. Mosqueda, Jr.

Cebu City -- Witnesses in the murder of lawyer Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco, the lady prosecutor handling the parricide case of cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr., positively identified an Ecleo follower as the one who allegedly shot and killed Yongco. The witnesses, who include a 10-year-old girl, positively identified principal suspect Michel Favila, a member of Ecleo's Philippine

Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), as the man they saw with a gun in the house of Yongco at the time she was killed.

Favila was reportedly arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Palawan Tuesday night. But Favila insisted he voluntarily surfaced at the NBI office there to clear his name.

Police authorities said that the positive identification of Favila by the witnesses was not done in a formal line-up but merely in a casual encounter.

Favila had just been turned over by the NBI to the Region 7 office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) when the girl, who was at the CIDG office purposely to take a look at suspect, saw him and told police he was the man with the gun she saw in the house of Yongco in the morning of Oct. 11 when she was shot.

NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco ordered Region 7 NBI agents to turn Favila over to the CIDG, the office that filed the complaint for murder against him with the Cebu City Prosecutor's Office.

Upon learning of the filing of the complaint against him, Favila said, he showed up at the NBI district office in Puerto Princesa City to clear his name.

"I did not do it. I want to clear my name," Favila said in Cebuano at the NBI Cebu office.

Favila almost immediately became the principal suspect in the killing of Yongco due to the striking similarities between his picture and the police artist's sketch of the gunman drawn from descriptions provided by witnesses.

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