Reward for info on killers of CDO university president raised to P2-M

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Cagayan de Oro (CNN Philippines, December 5) — The reward for information pointing to the killers of a Cagayan de Oro university president has been raised to P2 million.

The Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines offered Tuesday to add a million pesos more to the one-million-peso bounty pledged by the city government for information pointing to the killers of University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) President Ricardo Rotoras.

"The Masonic Community, here and throughout the Philippines, strongly and vigorously condemns with vehemence of our dearly beloved brother, Ricardo E. Rotoras," a statement from the group read.

Rotoras was considered one of the key members of academia who helped lawmakers push for the passage in August of the law mandating free tuition in state universities and colleges, or Republic Act 10931 known as the "Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act".

He died after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds from two unidentified gunmen outside his house in the town of Upper Carmen on December 2.

READ: University president shot dead, Cagayan de Oro mayor offers P1-M bounty for killers

"We believe with certainty that like our illustrious forebear who was murdered by ruffians inside the Temple, the ruffians who mercilessly murdered our beloved brother, Ric Rotoras mercilessly shall be punished as surely as the sun rises in the East," their statement added.

Police investigators have identified at least four persons of interest, but did not disclose to avoid compromising case build-up.

Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO), said the four included the killers and the mastermind of the shooting death of the state-run university president.

"Dili pa pwede nato ma-disclose kay basin makabalo unya kining mga persons of interest nga apil sila sa giimbestigahan kay gitutokan na nato ni sila," Hortillosa told reporters via phone call Tuesday.

[Translation: We cant disclosed who are these persons of interest that we are now monitoring.]

The USTP president came from a gathering of the Masons and went home around 1:00 a.m. accompanied by his driver Jonathan Khobutin before he was killed.

Hortillosa claimed the pair of paraffin casts taken from Khobutin tested negative for gunpowder nitrates.

The police also obtained footage from the Closed Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) in surrounding establishments. Investigators have also secured affidavits of Rotoras' wife and other witnesses.

The Cagayan de Oro city police spokesperson said information obtained will be turned over and consolidated with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the filing of charges.

"Ang mga information nga among makuha will be processed para sa pag-file sa kaso," Hortillosa said.

[Translation: All the information that we get will be processed and submitted to the NBI for the filing of the case.]

The NBI will file the charges in court once the case has been established and it gets hold of the concrete evidence, he added.

The University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines will hold a three-day wake from Wednesday in the university gymnasium. The Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges, which Rotoras headed for four terms, will sponsor a mass service at 12 noon.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) designated Rosalito Quirino, Chancellor of the USTP-Claveria, Misamis Oriental Campus, to temporarily take over Rotoras' post.

Classes in USTP are suspended from December 6 to 8 in honor of Rotoras.

Rotoras will be laid to rest on Friday.