A man wanted for the murder of two Japanese tourists in Palawan has been arrested in Tarlac after a six-month manhunt.
As we reported in June, the two victims were shot, cut into pieces and dumped at sea.
Police investigators were reported to be investigating links to Japanese Yakuza crime gangs after arresting Hiroyuki Nagahama, aged 55, for the killing of Yoshihiro Arai, 24, and Masaru Itani, 59.
The men were murdered during an island-hopping day trip before their body parts were scattered in the waters off the island of West Galoc.
Now, after probing the involvement of a local criminal gang called the Commando Brotherhood, they have arrested alleged member Sonny Anicete, alias “Tatan”.
Palawan Provincial Legal Officer, Teodoro Jose Matta, said the manhunt for the 66-year-old had involved police and local government agencies. The suspect was considered the island’s ‘most wanted’ fugitive.
He said: “We’re trying to see if he can be sent back to Puerto Princesa within the holidays. If not, maybe the first week of January next year, to be surrendered to the regional trial court.”
It is expected that Anicete will be incarcerated at the high-security Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm.
“I am inclined to recommend that he be detained in Iwahig,” said Mr Matta. “He is very influential underground and can run away again if detained anywhere else. This goes to show too, that if you commit a crime in Palawan, it does not mean that you would go unpunished. Finally, the wheels of justice can now turn on this murder case.”
Anicete is accused of recruiting other members of the Commando Brotherhood to commit the murder on behalf of Nagahama.
Michael Suangco, a tour boat operator, was arrested shortly after the alleged killing. Speaking to reporters in June, he said: “We threw them, piece by piece, into the water.” However, he added that he had acted under duress after being threatened with death if he didn’t help.
Other alleged gang members charged with murder are Reynante Labampa, Jovis Viscarra, alias “Jun”, and an alias “Bando.”