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Grudge eyed in scribe’s slay

A retired policeman who served at the Manila Police District (MPD) is now being considered a person of interest in the death of a journalist who was gunned down last month in Quiapo, Manila.

Task Force Balcoba spokesperson, Superintendent Marissa Bruno, said that the longstanding rift between the victim, People’s Brigada columnist Alex Balcoba Sr., and the unnamed policeman has been confirmed by the follow-up team from the homicide division of the MPD.

The cop last served at Malate station before his retirement in 2011.

Senior Inspector Rommel Anicete, chief of the MPD homicide division, said Balcoba and the policeman crossed path in 2012.

The ex-cop was renting a commercial space in the building at the back of Isetann mall in Quiapo, Manila when a new owner came in.

A was sent to tear down the structure, the former Crown building, but the ex-policeman resisted and even pointed his gun at the demolition team in an attempt to stop the activity, Anicete recounted.

Bloodshed was avoided when cops arrived and took the retired law enforcer and charged him with trespassing, theft and malicious mischief.

The new owner assigned Balcoba as caretaker of the lot where he put up a watch repair shop.

“Nagkaron ng hindi mgandang relasyon ’yung dalawa kasi si Alex kampi sa may-ari… Ni-libel (ng retiradong pulis) si Alex kasi tinitira niya sa lugar. Na-dismiss ’yung trespassing case nung 2012 din,” Anicete said.

Alex Balcoba Jr., the late journalist’s son, said that about a month ago, his father and the retired cop bumped into each other at Isetann Mall in Quiapo and had an altercation.

Witnesses heard Balcoba telling the former cop, “Suntukan na lang tayo!” To which the retired police officer replied: “Barilan na lang tayo!”

Both men, however, were separated by cooler heads.

The ex-cop denied that he had an altercation with the victim during an interview with a follow-up team last May 31.

Anicete said they are awaiting the retired cop to file a formal statement about the case.

“Wala kaming summon power…ang mere invitation sa amin is considered arrest. Kung ayaw niya wala kami magagawa unless may evidence,” Anicete said.

Balcoba Sr. was shot dead last May 27 in front of his watch repair shop in a vacant lot at the back of Isetann mall by a lone gunman who took off with another unidentified companion onboard a motorcycle.

The MPD and the National Bureau of Investigation had since released cartographic sketches of the suspects.

The MPD and the Manila Police District Press Corps have offered a P100,000 reward to anyone who could provide information on the identity of the suspects.

Meanwhile, Task Force Balcoba is awaiting the copy of the CCTV footage recorded by Sun Star hotel that stood near the vacant lot where the incident occurred. (JENNY MANONGDO)