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2 dead, 4 wounded in four heists

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

INCIDENTS of robbery-holdup in the city and province of Iloilo surged in the final days of 2009.

The latest victim was Alfonso Uy Jr., an egg trader from Passi City who was shot to death at Brgy. Agdahon Wednesday morning.

Uy and his three helpers were on their way back to Passi City proper from Calinog when 16 unidentified suspects onboard 8 motorcycles accosted them at Brgy. Agdahon.

The police said Erwin Alarba and John Paul Gardoce of the Alarba robbery-holdup group led the suspects. 

One of the suspects then shot Uy in the head resulting in his death. The robbers took away an estimated P20,000 cash and two cellphones from the victim.

On Monday morning, two unidentified suspects also tried to rob Gina Pedregoza also at Brgy. Agdahon. The suspects onboard a motorcycle blocked Pedregoza’s path and declared the heist. But Pedregoza fought off the robbers who shot her in her feet.

The suspects, who failed to get their targeted loot, fled from the crime scene.

Uriel Junio, a native of Misamiz Occidental and collector of a lending firm based in Negros Occidental died in the hands of a robber at Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening.

Junio died of multiple stab wounds in his back and chest, according to the Jaro police.

Police investigation showed that Junio was driving his motorcycle near the Jaro small market at Brgy. Simon Ledesma when his unidentified back rider stabbed him repeatedly.

The suspect took away P30,000 and Junio’s two cellular phones. 

On December 26, a barangay captain from Bacolod City was wounded when robbers attacked his group in front of the Pototan public market.

Punong Barangay Marianito Yelo of Brgy. 35, Bacolod City and his helper Joselito Teñoso were having coffee at the market before buying pork.

Moments later, three persons approached Yelo and Teñoso and declared the heist. The suspects then shot Yelo’s shoulder and Teñoso’s body.

But the gunfire caught the attention of bystanders forcing the suspects to flee. Yelo’s P700,000 cash was intact.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said they have identified the suspects in the heist, especially in the case of Alfonso Uy Jr.

Gumban said the robbers may have struck again after several months of hiatus to earn money for the holiday season.

Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. ordered the IPPO to arrest the suspects in the robberies before they could wreak more havoc.

But Tupas has yet to issue a statement on the involvement of his political ally, Banate Mayor Carlos Cabangal, in the shooting to death of businessman Carmelino Bachoco last December 25.

Bachoco’s cousin, Rally Beljera, tagged Cabangal’s son Peter Paul as the gunman in the incident.

Beljera said Mayor Cabangal was present when Peter Paul shot him and Bachoco some 200 meters from the town’s police station.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE sole witness tagged a town mayor’s son as the gunman who shot to death a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo last Christmas Day.

Rally Beljera, a cousin and worker of slain trader Carmelino Bachoco, pointed to Peter Paul Cabangal, a son of Banate Mayor Carlos Cabangal, as the one who shot them.

C/Insp. Herbert Ballego, Banate police chief, said Beljera told them what happened in the evening of December 25.

Ballego quoted Beljera as saying that he and Bachoco were on their way home when a motorcycle overtook and stopped several meters ahead.

Beljera claimed that he saw Carlo Cabangal, another son of Mayor Cabangal, driving the motorcycle while Peter Paul was the back rider.

The witness also saw Mayor Cabangal, his son Jerson Cabangal and several identified persons following behind them.

Beljera said he saw Peter Paul draw a gun and shoot Bachoco in the chest and head.

When the rice trader fell, Peter Paul allegedly trained his pistol at Beljera and fired.

Beljera said he quickly escaped when a bullet grazed his abdomen and left his cousin who was already on the ground.

Ballego said Beljera was not sure if there was another gunman or if Bachoco was able to retaliate at their attackers.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body from what is believed to be two gun calibers, according to the autopsy report of the PNP Criminal Laboratory.

The autopsy report said Bachoco were wounded by bullets compatible with a caliber .45 ammunition and a lower caliber gun.

Mayor Cabangal and Jerson Cabangal were also wounded in the incident. Peter Paul remains at-large, the Banate police said.

The police recovered empty shells of caliber .45 bullets, a caliber .45 pistol near Bachoco’s body and a magazine inside the victim’s pocket.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said they are awaiting Beljera’s official statement before they could file charges against the suspect or suspects.

“He has to subscribe to his affidavit so we can use this in the filing of charges,” Gumban said.

An old grudge over the demolition of Bachoco’s business establishment is believed to be the motive behind the shooting incident.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also conducting its own probe on the incident and summoned the police officers who responded to the incident.

The NBI is also looking into an altercation between Bachoco and Peter Paul last December 23.

Police hunting syndicate’s Iloilo connection

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) is hunting the associates of the four suspected robbers who were slain in a shootout Thursday evening in San Dionisio, Iloilo.

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, outgoing IPPO director, said the four suspects might have links in Iloilo as they are all from Luzon.

Eric Alminar, Sonny Madriaga and Reynold Romawak – all of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City – and a still unidentified suspect were killed in a shootout with the 608th Iloilo Provincial Mobile Group (IPMG) in Brgy. Nipa, San Dionisio.

The four suspects were tagged in the robbery of a Chinese trader in Sara, Iloilo an hour before the shootout.

Businessman Tee Wee Zhang and his helpers positively identified the suspects as the persons who carted away P20,000 cash and cellphones from the store in Sara town proper.

The 608th IPMG led by Supt. Ipil Dueñas learned of the suspects’ whereabouts in a resort in Brgy. Nipa based on tips from several civilians who saw the alleged robbers.

The IPMG was forced to shoot the suspects after they fired the first volleys.

Dela Paz said the slain suspects cannot stay nor operate in Iloilo if they didn’t have contacts in the province.

It was learned that the four suspects were members of a prison gang in Metro Manila whose members are hardened criminals. The suspects bore tattoos of a musang which is the trademark of the so-called Commando gang.

“We will look for their cohorts if they are still in here. And we believe that their associates are also locals who are involved in robberies and other criminalities,” dela Paz said.

Intelligence sources said the Commando gang members might have transferred to Iloilo to avoid the “heat” in Metro Manila.

It is also possible that they were sent to the province for “election-related” activities in the city and province of Iloilo.

The search for the partners of the four Commando gang members will be high on the list of S/Supt. Renato Gumban, who will take over the IPPO helm today.

Gumban, who once headed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 6, was appointed officer-in-charge of the IPPO after dela Paz finished his two-year tour of duty in the region.

Gumban might become full-fledged IPPO director if Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. chooses him.

Dela Paz will be transferred to the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) and might be assigned to the Regional Personnel and Human Resources Development Division.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GUNS for hire continue to be a major threat to peace and order in Iloilo province, according to the top official of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO).

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said the neutralization of hired killers in the province is one of their priorities what with the spate of killings that happened since last year.

“Guns for hire remain to be the biggest threat to Iloilo province and we are working hard to arrest these suspects,” dela Paz said in an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday.

The IPPO chief said they have arrested 12 suspected hired killers involved in various assassinations in Iloilo. Two suspects – Rex Consumo and Edgar Cordero – already died while the remaining 10 are in detention and facing charges in court.

Consumo, the suspect in the killing of Janiuay village chief Jerry Colaja last year, died of natural causes while in detention at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC).

Cordero, the suspected gunman of the late Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas, died in a shooting incident in Butuan City late last year. His fellow suspect Dennis Cartagena was arrested and is also detained at the IRC.

“These guns for hire belong to the same group because bullets recovered from one assassination case matched the evidence in another incident,” he said.

Dela Paz said it is possible that guns for hire are under the protection of rich persons or even some authorities “but we have no evidence to confirm such report.”

Meanwhile, the IPPO will file criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives against two suspected thieves of cable and telephone wires.

Suspects William Pacaco and Hadjie Lalan Lalantacon were arrested at Capay-Capay, Dueñas last week following a raid on their group’s hideout.

Pacaco and Lalantacon are linked to the group of Roland Laquihon who steal copper wires used as cable TV and telephone lines.

Laquihon, who was also a subject of the raid, escaped before the police could reach their hideout.

Dela Paz said the Laquihon group is also involved in highway robbery cases in Iloilo.

The raiding team recovered from the suspects a caliber .45 pistol, a homemade 12-gauge shotgun, hand grenades and assorted bullets.

Dela Paz said the group was planning to rob a junkshop owner and poultry supply trader “that’s why we raided their hideouts before they could move.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A POLICE officer was ordered relieved from the police force of Dueñas, Iloilo for allegedly promoting encierro or illegal cockfight in the town.

 

SPO2 Malko Queque is being tagged as the promoter of the cockfight at Brgy. Catig last Good Friday during which Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president Sergio Pelopero and his companion Patricio Nobleza were shot dead. 

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office-6 director, said he has ordered Iloilo provincial police director Ricardo dela Paz to investigate Queque.

 

Cuevas also directed dela Paz to relieve Queque from Dueñas PNP pending the investigation.

 

“We also sent a team to Dueñas to verify the report that a police officer bankrolled the cockfight on a Good Friday which is illegal,” Cuevas added.

 

Queque and Senior Insp. Willy Diel, Dueñas police chief, appeared before dela Paz yesterday at the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo.

 

Diel said Queque denied promoting the cockfight.

 

“Queque’s home is near the scene of the incident and he was the first to respond after he was informed about the shooting. He said he was not at the cockpit nor did he had entries in the cockfight,” Diel said.

 

Diel said Queque joins cockfights “when he has time.”

 

“He was about to report to duty when the incident happened,” he added.

 

Dela Paz said they have formed Task Force Pelopero to probe deeper into the Good Friday shooting.

 

The task force is headed by Supt. Mario Abraham Lenaming, IPPO deputy director for administration.

 

Dela Paz said they are preparing murder cases against suspects Jose Tommy Abordaje and his brother-in-law Arnel Pula who both remain at-large.

 

Dueñas Mayor Robert Martin Pama said they will also include in the investigation Punong Barangay Enrique Silvestre of Catig for allowing the cockfight in his village.

 

Punong Barangay Edmundo Mirador of Lacadon is also under investigation for being one of the promoters of the cockfight.  

 

Pama said they later found out that the cockfight was held in Catig which is near Lacadon village.

 

Punong Barangay Romulo Laguna of Imbang Grande yesterday took his oath of office before Governor Niel Tupas Sr. as the new ABC president of Dueñas.   

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

CATTLE rustlers operating in central Iloilo might be remnants of a private armed group maintained by politicians during the 2007 elections.

 

This is the latest assessment of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) on the cattle rustling syndicate believed to be operating out of Cabatuan, Iloilo.

 

IPPO sources said members of this syndicate are armed with M16 rifles and homemade shotguns and use handheld radio communications.

 

The firearms may have been issued to the gang members by politicians who hired them as bodyguards in the last local and national elections. But IPPO officials did not name the concerned politicians.

 

The syndicate also uses closed delivery vans to pick up and transport stolen cattle to Leon, Iloilo where the animals are sold and slaughtered.

 

IPPO records as of last week show that a total of 15 heads of cattle were stolen in four Iloilo towns – 4 in Pavia, 2 in Cabatuan, 2 in Janiuay and 7 in Leganes.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said they formed a task group that will monitor and track down the cattle rustling gang in Cabatuan.

 

Dela Paz said the purported leader of the group is a relative of another Cabatuan native who allegedly headed a robbery and cattle rustling syndicate.

 

Dela Paz said he also ordered municipal police stations to closely monitor their areas for cattle thieves.

 

“The gang has a buyer which is why they can dispose their loot immediately. We will arrest this buyer once we have enough evidence against the suspect,” dela Paz said.

 

Governor Niel Tupas Sr. said the Prion group led by a certain Bru Prion is responsible for the spate of cattle rustling not only in the province but also in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

Tupas said he ordered dela Paz to neutralize the group immediately.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILLEGAL numbers games continue to burgeon in 7 towns in Iloilo and police officers might be protecting these illicit operations.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office director, said first two and daily double are rampant in the towns of Miag-ao, Guimbal, Tigbauan, Oton, San Enrique and Pavia.

 

Dela Paz said they have arrested and sued 40 coredores or bet collectors for the two illegal numbers games this year.

 

The IPPO is also gathering information on the alleged financiers of illegal gambling operations in the province.

 

“These syndicates are doing guerrilla operations by holding their draws in different areas and sometimes inside vehicles to avoid detection by our operatives,” dela Paz said.

 

The IPPO is trying to detect cops who are protecting illegal gamblers by looking at the performance of municipal police stations.

 

Dela Paz said police officials who are coddling illegal gamblers will be exposed by their lousy performance.

 

The IPPO chief met the police station chiefs last week to look for ways to combat illegal gambling in the province.

 

CATTLE RUSTLING

 

Meanwhile, dela Paz said a cattle rustling syndicate has resurfaced in Cabatuan, Iloilo.

 

The group is believed to be responsible for the disappearance of 2 carabaos and 5 cows owned by Donato Rustique, Jose Tallo and Rene Rivera in Leganes, Iloilo.

 

Dela Paz said the members of the gang were also involved in cattle rustling years back but they went back due to the economic crisis.

 

“We already know them. They steal cattle from other towns then bring them to Cabatuan,” he added.

 

Cattle rustling operations in Cabatuan and other towns in the second and third districts were curbed with the neutralization of the Prion group years back.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) said it has identified the suspects in the robbery and killing of a retired Australian police in Ajuy, Iloilo last January 6.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said they will reveal the names of the suspects in the killing of Australian national Werner Holz once they have filed criminal charges against them.

 

As to the motive, dela Paz said this will be known in the case that they will file anytime soon.

 

Dela Paz said they are carefully putting together important details in the case to come up with an airtight case against the suspects.

 

Dela Paz said members of Task Force Werner did not rush the investigation so that they can study every piece of information that cam their way.

 

“We want to make sure that we have all the right information so we can put up a strong case against the suspects,” he added.

 

Three suspects barged inside the room of Holz and his wife Vivian nee Posadas, early morning of January 6.

 

The suspects stabbed the victim 24 times and took away more than P1 million worth of cash and jewelry.

 

A P100,000 reward is offered to persons who can provide information on the suspects in the Holz’s death.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ROBBERY, old grudges and business rivalry are the possible motives being eyed in the murder and robbery of an Australian national in a coastal village of Ajuy early morning Tuesday.

 

Werner Holz, 62, a retired police officer from Australia, died of more than 20 stab wounds in his chest, back and neck.

 

Holz’s stab-riddled body was found past 4am yesterday in his bed inside his 1.5-hectare beach front residence at Brgy. Pili, Ajuy.

 

Based on the testimonies of Holz’s Ilongga wife, Vivian Posadas-Holz, her husband went outside their house past 12 midnight to urinate.

 

Five minutes after he returned to bed, three masked men wielding pistols and a knife barged inside their room.

 

Two of the suspects immediately overpowered the 6-foot, 5-inch Holz and repeatedly stabbed him. Dr. Noel Martinez, PNP medico legal, said Holz died of 24 stab wounds in the body and neck.

 

The third suspect then ordered Vivian to open the safety vault inside the master’s bedroom. According to the initial count by investigators, the suspects took away an estimated P200,000 cash, US$5,000 cash and P800,000 worth of jewelry from the vault.

 

The suspects then tied up Vivian and locked her inside the comfort room. When the suspects left, the wife cried for help but the nanny of their 7-year-old son only responded to her plea around 4am.

 

The unidentified nanny said she did not mind Vivian’s cry for help thinking that the couple were arguing inside their room. But when the nanny entered the master’s bedroom, she saw the bloodied Holz on the bed.

 

The Holz household then asked help from their neighbors who called Pili barangay officials and tanods to the crime scene.

 

PROFESSIONALS

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, immediately went to Ajuy to personally lead the investigation on the incident.

 

Dela Paz described the case as a work of professionals as indicated by their manner of entry and the swiftness of the operation.

 

“Initially, the motive is plain robbery but we are digging deeper into the background of the victim so we can include other motives that led to the incident,” dela Paz said.

 

To ensure that their intrusion will not rouse attention from Holz’s neighbors, the suspects fed the victim’s two pet dogs with food laced with tranquilizers.

 

“It is possible that the suspects forced their way inside the house or they were already inside the residence. Or maybe they sneaked inside while Holtz was urinating outside their house,” dela Paz said.

 

Punong Barangay Emmanuel Asumbra of Pili said the dogs drooled and appeared dazed hours after the crime was discovered, an indication that the animals were drugged.

 

Their initial investigation indicated the culprits wore masks and gloves to avoid leaving their fingerprints in the crime scene.

 

The fact that they had no remorse in killing Holz also indicates that the suspects were professionals, dela Paz added.

 

The police also noticed that only the front and back yards of the Holz’s residence was lighted at night.

 

The main house and the adjoining guest houses, which are facing the sea, are made of nipa and wood. The master’s bedroom is air-conditioned, thus the noise from within is muffled.

 

Dela Paz said the couple’s companion inside the house were their 7-year-old son, Holz’s daughter from his previous marriage, the nanny and househelp who is also a sister of Vivian.

 

“The suspects patterned the movement of the victims by conducting surveillance on the couple. The hit was systematic and fast. We continue to investigate the case until we have ascertained the motive and the suspects are identified,” the IPPO chief said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

FIRECRACKER injuries during the New Year Eve celebration in 2008 went down by almost 50 percent, according to the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

 

PRO-6 director Isagani Cuevas said the PNP recorded only 42 cases of firecracker injuries in Western Visayas, 47% lower compared to 79 cases in 2007.

 

Cuevas attributed the low firecracker injuries to heavy rains December 31, the economic crisis and the government’s “Iwas Paputok Program” which seeks to discourage the public from using firecrackers during New Year’s Eve.

 

But the Department of Health-6 has yet to come up with its own record of firecracker injuries culled by the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City and Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said it is also possible that some minor New Year-related injuries were not reported or referred to hospitals.

 

If firecracker injuries decreased, stray bullet incidents in Iloilo City rose to 19 cases based on latest data from the Iloilo City Police Office despite warnings by the police and the DOH.

 

Cuevas said they are digging deeper into to the stray bullet cases although it would be hard to trace the owner of the bullets.

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas raised concern over the stray bullet incidents even as he urged residents to tip the police of persons who fired their guns on New Year’s Eve.

 

Treñas said cash reward await those who can finger irresponsible gun owners.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TROPICAL depression Quinta has claimed the lives of 13 persons in Western Visayas while several others were injured after several boats capsized amid giant waves.

 

The death toll of the ill-fated passenger motor banca Rolev V (not Role 4 as earlier reported) which capsized in Brgy. Bagongon in Isla Tagubanhan, Concepcion, Iloilo rose to 12 while two others remain missing.

 

The Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO), Philippine Coast Guard and the municipality of Concepcion continue to search for the two missing passengers.

 

The banca sunk amid big waves caused by tropical depression Quinta which passed northern Panay area Thursday afternoon.

 

A total of 31 passengers survived and rescued by emergency responders.

 

Rolev V was ferrying a total of 43 passengers who went marketing in Concepcion town proper when it capsized.

 

The 12 fatalities were identified as Leonil Villaran, 30, Antonia dela Cruz, 50, Juanito Musico, 71, Shiela Olano, Miriam Salundagit, 60, Carmen Padrillan, 71, Aida Libre, 55, Frenz Cedric Depositario, 4, Lila Bilano, 61, Jethniel Flores, 3, Regine Caberoy and Adam Clark Villaran.

 

Of the 31 survivors, 24 are in Brgy. Bagongon while 7 are confined in Sara District Hospital.

 

The IPPO also reported that a fishing trawl with 13 crewmembers also capsized near Brgy. Mananabang, Concepcion Thursday.

 

One crewmember of the Roxas City-based fishing boat remains missing while the rest survived unscathed.

 

A total of seven passengers were injured after M/B April Joy, M/B Jona 1 and Nonoy Mike capsized off Carles and Batad.

 

Governor Niel Tupas said the provincial government will extend financial help to the families of the fatalities.

 

A 58-year-old construction worker died after being dragged into the sea while catching shrimps along the shores of Purok 4, Barangay Singcang-Airport in Bacolod City, Thursday afternoon.

 

Members of the Amity Volunteer Brigade found Saturnino Gonzaga’s body after searching for the construction worker for two hours. His body was caught by a fisherman’s net several kilometers from the shore.

 

Some 30 families were left homeless after their houses were destroyed by a tornado in Barangay Catabla, Talisay City.

 

The Negros Occidental provincial disaster management division said 59 homes were also damaged by the tornado that struck the village at the height of the storm.

 

More than 20 families from different villages in Bacolod City, who are residing along riverbanks, also evacuated their homes after their houses were hit by strong flood waters.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) is accused of murdering a couple in Janiuay, Iloilo last week.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said the RPA-ABB has been planning to kill Arthur Arnaiz, 47, and his live-in partner Estelita Mestrante, 40, both of Brgy. Danao, Janiuay.

 

Some 7-8 persons ambushed Arnaiz, a former New People’s Army member, and Mestrante Thursday morning at Brgy. Sto. Tomas in the said town.

 

The victims, who were riding a motorcycle when ambushed, suffered severe head and body shots believed to be from 12-gauge shotguns.

 

The masked suspects hid behind bamboo clumps before blocking the victims’ path and shooting them.

 

The suspects made sure that the duo was dead by shooting them point blank in the head. The gunmen took away the victims’ wallets and cellphones to make it appear that it was a robbery incident, according to Janiuay police investigators.

 

Dela Paz said Arnaiz may have earned the RPA-ABB’s ire when the victim sold the gun given to him by the rebel group. The victim reportedly sold the gun to finance the hospitalization of his sick mother.

 

But Dela Paz said they are having a hard time getting witnesses for fear that the RPA-ABB members will retaliate.

 

Arnaiz and Mestrante were on their way to Janiuay town proper to deliver charcoal when waylaid by the suspects.

 

Arnaiz’s brother Jun-Jun said over Bombo Radyo-Iloilo that the victim has been receiving threats days before the ambush.

 

A child of Arnaiz said their father confided to them that suspicious looking persons have been tracking his movement for four days.

 

Cecilia Barranco, a sister of Mestrante, said the victim told her that several persons whom Arnaiz knew blocked their path several days before the ambush.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT is up to the family of slain vice mayor Ramon Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo to decide on the next legal step they will take after the Provincial Prosecutors Office (PPO) dismissed the murder case filed against the alleged mastermind of the assassination.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz said he directed Ajuy police chief Ariel Artillero to coordinate with the Rojas family so they can discuss the next move relative to the dismissal of the murder charges against Vicente “Etik” Espinosa.

The PPO junked the charges against Espinosa and fellow accused Lindsey Buenavista for lack of sufficient evidence.

In a resolution issued August 12, the PPO said the statements of nine witnesses gathered by the Ajuy police would not suffice to charge Espinosa and Buenavista with murder before the Regional Trial Court.

But the PPO said another case can be filed against Espinosa and Buenavista if a “new quantum of evidence” can prove their participation in Rojas’ assassination.

The prosecutor also resolved to elevate to the RTC the murder raps against alleged gunmen Edgar Cordero and Dennis Cartagena.

Dela Paz said they were disappointed with the decision of the PPO “but we respect our prosecutors on this matter.”

“We will just coordinate with the Rojas family whether they want to file a motion for reconsideration with the Department of Justice where the resolution might be reversed. We are disappointed because have nine witnesses under our protection who identified Espinosa and Buenavista as part of the conspiracy against Rojas,” dela Paz said.

Atty. Edeljulio Romero, one of Espinosa’s legal counsel, said the dismissal of the charges against his client proves that the latter has no part in Rojas’ murder.

Romero also slammed the police for filing the murder case against Espinosa which were based on hearsays.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ARMED vigilantes will not be tolerated even if the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) has its hands full of robbery cases and other incidents.
Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, made this statement to clarify his earlier pronouncements over radio stations that he is encouraging vigilantes to run after criminals.
Dela Paz said what he meant was a civilian volunteer group that will help the police through information and tips on the whereabouts of criminals.
“In everything we do, the rule of law must be followed. Armed vigilantes are out of the question because their existence and mode of operation are against the legal system,” dela Paz said.
The IPPO chief said they want to stress the role of the public in crime fighting by way of reporting presence of suspicious individuals and untoward incidents in their communities.
“We meant vigilance, not vigilantes,” he added.
Meanwhile, the IPPO yesterday said nine suspected robbers were arrested by various municipal police stations in the past two weeks.
The suspects were presented the suspects in a press conference Thursday at the office of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. in the provincial capitol.
The arrested persons were:
– Jonathan Paniza (robbery) arrested in Cabatuan, Iloilo August 6;
– Democrito Miro (robbery in band) arrested in New Lucena, Iloilo August 7;
– Jonnel Mallo (illegal possession of firearms, highway robbery, and robbery) arrested in New Lucena August 7;
– Ivan Apruevo (highway robbery in band and illegal possession of firearms) arrested in Lambunao, Iloilo;
– Ludovico Consumo Jr. (robbery) arrested on August 14;
– Jerry dela Cruz (robbery) arrested in Janiuay, Iloilo August 4;
– Darry Bravo (robbery) arrested in Cabatuan August 14;
– Bernie Manajero and Victorio Luis.
Dela Paz said the arrests were part of their intensified campaigns against criminality following the spate of robberies victimizing lending collectors in the province.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PROMINENT personalities might be coddling robbers in Iloilo province reason why they are so daring and outright murderous in their operations, the chief of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) said.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said they have noticed that robbers have become very aggressive that they even kill their victims just like what happened to two collectors in Dingle and Sara in the last two weeks.

“While we are not necessarily saying that the police or military is behind them, we could say that somebody is protecting these suspects because they are very daring,” dela Paz said.

The police are also looking at inside job or “holdup me” cases just like what happened with Michael Mediana, collector of Life Bank Lending who allegedly arranged the heist with his cousin Jose Ruel Mediana and Reu Carbonera in Dingle, Iloilo.

The IPPO records speak for the resurgence of highway robbers with 42 robbery cases happening in the first six months of 2008 or an average of six heists per month.

Last month, seven robbery cases occurred, victimizing mostly lending firm collectors.

Dela Paz said they have solved 30 robbery cases and arrested 25 suspects who belong to the group of Edgar Cordero, the prime suspect in the assassination of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas.

The IPPO is set to meet with lending firms in the province to discuss security measures for their collectors who fall prey to robbers.

Dela Paz said he is concerned with the safety of lending firm employees “because collectors look like money to robbers.”

This is the second time that the IPPO will meet with lending firms to discuss security matters but dela Paz said he has yet to see full cooperation from these companies.

Dela Paz said they have suggested to lending firms that police officers will escort their collectors in far-flung areas to deter robbers from victimizing them.

“We hope that this time they will cooperate so we can protect them also. The police continues to be vigilant by conducting checkpoints and visibility patrols in various towns but it seems robbers are also looking after our shadows,” dela Paz said.

 (Visit www.thedailyguardian.com for more news)

 

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