Coconut vendor in mauling incident wanted for murder : MMDA


MANILA — Police arrested Tuesday afternoon the coconut vendor who was mauled by personnel of the Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (SCOG-MMDA) as he faces murder charge together with his two brothers for killing a man in Masbate in March 2007.

Romnick Relos was arrested by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) agents after he guested on a television program hosted by broadcaster Raffy Tulfo on Aksyon TV.

He and his brothers were turned over to the CIDG headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City for booking procedures.

Romnick and his brothers Roy and Dondon, who hailed from Aruroy town in Masbate province, were charged with murder for hacking Junie Olete to death on the evening of Mar. 25, 2007.

A warrant of arrest was served by the Masbate Regional Trial Court 5th Judicial Region Branch on January 25, 2008.

“The video of the mauling incident went viral on social media thus many people were able to view it and this was eventually reported to the CIDG. We are grateful to the CIDG for coordinating with us which led to the arrest of the suspects,” MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim said in an interview with reporters.

The CIDG has deployed its operatives to Relos’ house in Maricaban, Pasay City, resulting to the apprehension of two of his brothers.

According to the MMDA, Relos and his brothers forcibly entered the house of the victim, attacking and hacking him in front of his wife Evelyn.

Lim said that Relos showed up on TV to gain public sympathy after a video of him being mauled went viral.

“We think that he appeared on TV to gain public sympathy because he knows that there is a standing arrest warrant against him,” he said.

MMDA Acting General Manager Jojo Garcia, however, stressed that Relos’ arrest would not have a bearing on the 15-day suspension filed against the three SCOG personnel who were directly involved in the mauling incident,

“The case of Romnick is not related with the mauling incident involving the MMDA personnel. We asked Romnick when he first surfaced and he told us that there are no outstanding case against him,” Garcia said.

The SCOG personnel involved in the mauling incident were earlier tested negative for illegal drugs.

The agency ordered the 13 SCOG personnel undergo drug testing while the vendor volunteered to do the same. Of the 13, three, who are now serving a 15-day preventive suspension pending investigation, were involved in mauling Relos.

The incident happened last March 2 at the vicinity of EDSA-Evangelista footbridge (northbound) in Pasay City, which was caught on video and went viral on social media, showed SCOG members mauling the coconut vendor during a clearing operation.

MMDA will decide whether to extend the suspension of the concerned personnel, who are on job order status, or terminate them depending on the recommendation of its legal department.

“We decided to file first the cases against the three personnel as they are the ones directly involved in the incident. We will be deciding on the next steps depending on what our legal will advice us,” Garcia said in a press briefing earlier today. Aerol John Pateña/