The Manila Police District (MPD) clarified on Tuesday night, July 26, that Nestor Punzalan is not the man who shot dead a bicycle rider in Quiapo, Manila on Monday night.
GMA News Online reported that MPD chief Senior Inspector Rommel Anicete said that they have already identified and obtained a photo of the suspect, which is not Punzalan.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin also told GMA’s morning show Unang Hirit that Punzalan is not their suspect. He added that the bureau is already hunting for the real suspect.
CCTV footage of a driver shooting a bicycle rider, identified as Mark Vincent Geralde, in Quiapo, Manila on Monday night went viral.
As reported by GMA News Online, the authorities said that the car hit the bike along P. Casal Street. The CCTV footage showed the driver getting out of his car and engaging in a fistfight with the cyclist. After the cyclist got the driver into a headlock, the fight subsided and the latter went back into his car, only to come out again carrying a gun. The footage showed the driver shooting the cyclist in the face. Geralde went down and more shots were fired.
The car involved in the incident turned out to be a red Hyundai Eon.
The MPD headquarter’s homicide division investigated the case, and so did the netizens.
It so happens that Nestor Punzalan also owns a red Hyundai Eon. His car’s conduction sticker is MO-3746.
This brought netizens to Punzalan’s Facebook page and to repost his Facebook profile and photos, especially those showing off his car.
How Punzalan was dragged into the issue
But how did the netizens happen to find their way to Punzalan’s social media account?
Among those that were shared on Facebook touting Punzalan as the cyclist shooter credited their information to Top Gear PH, like this post.
Even the more influential pages on Facebook, like this one, did not hold back in identifying Punzalan as the suspect, without even blurring the photos of the victim.
Top Gear editor Veron Sarne issued an apology on his Facebook page after posting the photo of Punzalan’s Hyundai Eon.
However, Top Gear published an article explaining that they were not the originator of the news about a red Hyundai Eon with a conduction sticker MO-3746 as the vehicle of the cyclist killer. We Googled the said conduction sticker and indeed found several news sites publishing it in their articles about the road rage incident.
Top Gear also said that they did their part in the investigation, asking Hyundai Philippines to track down the owner of the Eon with an MO-3746 conduction sticker, but the car manufacturer said that they would prefer giving sensitive information to the authorities alone.
This prompted the netizens to do their own research, with one netizen giving Top Gear a tip upon spotting and cross-checking an Eon with the reported conduction sticker.
And that’s how Punzalan’s name was dragged all over social media, paraded as the cyclist shooter.
But Top Gear later posted on their Facebook page that they received a message from a person who wants to keep their identity hidden, correcting that the real conduction sticker of the suspect who killed the cyclist is MO-3745, not MO-3746.
To clear his name, Punzalan went to the NBI on Tuesday. As reported on TV’s “Aksyon,” he said he wants to clear his name and stressed that he did not use his Eon on Monday night, choosing to go on his motorcycle instead. He and his wife also said that they are willing to undergo all the tests necessary to prove that he’s not the suspect.
Due to all the threats to his life, Punzalan is considering filing a case against netizens who posted about him online.
As promised by the MPD, they revealed the name of their suspect in the killing of bike rider Geralde today.
MPP Chief Homicide Sr. Insp. Anicete identified the shooter as a certain Vhon Tanto. Anicete said that Tanto is an Army Reservist, branding him as armed and dangerous, News5 reported.