Filipino cop charged in billionaire’s slaying

Filipino cop charged in billionaire’s slaying

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -A high-ranking police officer has been charged with the murder of billionaire businessman Richard King.

Supt. Leonardo Felonia, former police regional intelligence unit chief, was charged with King's murder at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) here on Tuesday.

Felonia has been removed as police regional intelligence unit chief and placed in custody at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame for several months.

Supt. Tony Rivera, regional police spokesperson, said the case against Felonia was filed by the prosecutor's office at the RTC Branch 17. The prosecutor's office found probable cause to charge Felonia with the murder of King.

The 56-year-old King, owner of Crown Regency Group of Hotels and health products company Vital-C, was shot at close range in the head while in a gathering of his distributors inside Vital-C's building in Obrero on June 12.

King was also the chair of Vital-C Land Development Corp., chief executive officer of J. King and Sons, president of Fuente Triangle Realty Development Corp. and founder and director of Boracay Multiple Properties Developers Inc.

Days after the murder, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed that local policemen would solve the killing that eventually led to the arrest of three suspects. The Davao City police arrested suspects Paul Labang, Rodel de la Cerna and Rommel de la Cerna.

Initial investigation showed that Labang was the gunman positively identified by witnesses. Rommel allegedly conducted the surveillance and confirmed that the target was in the building while Rodel acted as the driver of the getaway motorcycle.

Police sources, meanwhile, confirmed that Rommel was an active police asset.

After their arrest, Rommel claimed during an interview with the media that the killing was ordered by a high-ranking police officer.

The next day, Duterte arranged a meeting with investigators at the National Bureau of Investigation office in the city. Duterte explained to the NBI that Felonia surrendered to him and sought his help after his name was implicated in the case.

The mayor admitted that Felonia's name was mentioned by one of the suspects.

Duterte said Felonia refused to surrender to the PNP and that he suggested that he surrender to the NBI instead.

Felonia, during the short press conference with Duterte, insisted that he was innocent and that he would cooperate with authorities.

"That is why I am here. I am submitting myself to the investigation," Felonia said during Duterte's press conference.

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