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2 killed, 2 brothers wounded in shootout

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

VIOLENCE continues to grip the town of Ajuy, Iloilo.

A brother of a former mayor and Iloilo provincial board member and two other persons are wanted for their involvement in a shootout in Ajuy resulting in the death of two persons Thursday last week.

Julio “Oyok” Ramirez is wanted for the shooting to death of Alejandrino “Bebeng” Castro in a videoke bar in Ajuy town proper 9pm of August 7.

Ramirez is the brother of former Lambunao mayor and board member Vicente “Bugok” Ramirez.

Also killed in the gunfight was Paul Dignadice, Ajuy market in-charge and associate of Ramirez, who was shot by one of Castro’s nephews.

Cousins Vincent Herida and Joseph Herida were wounded in the shootout and are now recovering in a hospital in Iloilo City.

According to Vincent, they arrived at the videoke bar from Sara, Iloilo past 9pm to eat dinner. But since there was no more food, Vincent ordered a bottle of softdrink while Joseph settled for a bottle of beer.

In the table near the Heridas’s were Ramirez, Dignadice, Jose “Lalo” Zayco and a certain Butik who were drinking beer.

Vincent said he noticed a shotgun partly covered by a jacket on the chair beside Ramirez.

Zayco then noticed the cousins and asked them where they came from which Vincent answered.

After a while, Vincent said he saw Ramirez go out of the bar and board his car. After 10-20 minutes he returned and chanced upon Castro, the uncle of Vincent and Joseph, who arrived at the bar on board a trisikad.

Without any provocation, Dignadice allegedly approached the trisikad driver, kicked and told him to go home.

Ramirez then asked Zayco if the man who has just arrived was Castro which the latter confirmed.

Vincent said he saw Ramirez pick up the shotgun, pointed it to Castro while saying “Patyun ta ka (I will kill you).”

Zayco, however, pacified Ramirez for fear that he will be wounded. Ramirez then told all those inside the bar to get out.

At that time, Dignadice was training his caliber .38 revolver at Vincent and Joseph and told them to raise their shirts. Dignadice was apparently inspecting the cousins if they were carrying firearms.

Members of the Ajuy police later arrived and told Ramirez and Dignadice to keep away their guns.

Ramirez’s group then went to the police station for investigation.

Chief Insp. Ariel Artillero, Ajuy police chief, said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that they confiscated Ramirez’s shotgun and asked him to show his license and permit to carry firearms outside of residence but he failed.

Artillero said they kept the gun and told Ramirez to return the following with his papers.

Vincent said they stayed at the bar to look after their uncle who was also drunk. Minutes later, Ramirez and company returned to the bar on his car while Zayco followed on board a motorcycle.

Vincent said he saw Ramirez loading a magazine into his caliber .45 pistol after alighting from the car.

“I heard Uncle Bebeng (Castro) say ‘So, gakahulog bala (Your bullets are spilling)’. Then Oyok (Ramirez) instructed Dignadice to take care of us while he take charge of our uncle,” Vincent said.

Dignadice then pointed his gun at Vincent and Joseph while Ramirez went near Castro who was begging him not to shoot.

But Vincent said Ramirez shot Castro four times in his body. Despite being wounded, Castro managed to run with his nephews out of the bar amid the hail of bullets from their attackers.

Castro eventually fell to the ground, prompting Vincent to go back and help the former.

As he tried to lift his wounded uncle, Vincent noticed the caliber .38 revolver in the latter’s waist.

The approaching Dignadice then shot Vincent in his left calf to prevent him from fleeing. But Vincent fired back using his uncle’s revolver hitting Dignadice in his head and body.

Ramirez, Zayco and alias Butik quickly fled after seeing Dignadice fall to the ground.

The police arrived and shot Vincent who was firing the revolver at Ramirez’s car.

Castro and Dignadice died while the cousins were rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Relatives of the victims and the Ajuy police said the incident may have been triggered by a long standing grudge between Ramirez and Castro, who was released from prison on parole more than a year ago.

The grudge occurred when Ramirez allegedly threw stones at Castro’s house for refusing to open their restaurant. The incident led to a verbal tussle with Castro challenging the suspect to a duel.

Castro’s family is blaming the police for not detaining Ramirez for illegal possession of firearms which may have averted the deadly incident.

Artillero said Ramirez remains at large even as reports said that the latter has fled to Luzon.

The shooting is the latest violent incident in Ajuy following the assassination of vice mayor Ramon Rojas May, this year.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Capiz Provincial Police Office (CPPO) is set to file this week murder charges against the alleged gunmen of radio broadcaster Martin Roxas of dyVR RMN-Roxas City.

Senior Supt. Josephus Angan, CPPO director and Task Force Martin Roxas commander, said they are gathering the sworn statements of eyewitnesses so they can file murder charges against suspects Christian Tan and Jonel Lastimoso.

Tan and Lastimoso, who are detained at the Roxas City police station, were caught hours after Roxas was shot Thursday last week.

Roxas was on his way home after his noontime program Targetanay Sa Udto when he was shot in the back at Bayot Drive in the said city.

According to the autopsy report, Roxas succumbed to hemorrhage after a “special bullet” pierced his heart and lungs.

Angan said they are carefully gathering all evidence and statements against the suspects so they can file an airtight case.

“The task force is also awaiting the results of the paraffin tests on the two suspects but if the results are delayed, we will just submit them supplementary evidence,” Angan said.

“We can’t afford to be hasty in this case and everything must undergo the legal process,” the CPPO director said.

Angan said no less than PNP regional director Isagani Cuevas is supervising the investigation.

Meanwhile, local government units in Capiz and Roxas City raised a P300,000 reward for witnesses who can point to the suspects, especially the mastermind of Roxas’ assassination.

Governor Victor Tanco set aside P150,000 while Mayor Vicente Bermejo will give another P150,000 to informants.

The police are looking into Roxas’ work and the exposés he carried when he was still alive in tracking the motive and brains behind his death.

The top issues Roxas discussed the past months are the alleged financial aid scandal in Roxas City and the P44-million ghost projects in Capiz.

The two issues involved former city mayor Antonio del Rosario, now congressman of Capiz first district, and incumbent Roxas City Mayor Vicente Bermejo, the former provincial governor.

The two politicians have been at odds since the May 2007 elections.

THE International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply saddened by the murder of broadcast journalist Martin Roxas, who was shot dead in a broad daylight attack in Capiz, the Philippines, on August 7.

Roxas, 32, anchorman of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) station dyVR and host of the station’s midday program “Targetanay sa Udto”, was shot by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle as he left the radio station in Barangay village at 1pm.

Colleagues reportedly informed police that Roxas, who was also auditor for the Capiz chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, had been beaten by a group of young men last week.

Roxas is the second RMN broadcaster to be targeted this week. Dennis Cuesta, program director for the dxMD program on the RMN network, is currently fighting for his life after suffering three bullet wounds to his head in an attack in General Santos City on August 4.

Roxas is the fourth journalist to be murdered this year and the 59th since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took power in 2001.

“It is with great distress that the IFJ reports that Roxas’ murder and the attack on Cuesta have seen the Philippines return to the top of the most dangerous countries in the Asia-Pacific region for journalists so far in 2008,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“The IFJ welcomes reports that the Capiz provincial police have established a taskforce to investigate Roxas’ shooting and that two persons have been detained.”

The IFJ joins the NUJP in appealing to the RMN network and local authorities to provide extra security and protection for journalists, particularly as they travel to and from work.

“Only through public condemnation and the active pursuit of justice will authorities send a clear message that such heinous attacks will not be tolerated.”

The IFJ extends its deep sympathy to Roxas’ family and friends, to the NUJP, and to the Radio Mindanao Network for the shocking attacks on two of its journalists this week.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE village chief of a barangay in San Enrique, Iloilo which is believed to be the haven of robbers in the province appealed to bandits to come out and surrender.

Punong Barangay Cenon Palomaria of Baraulan, San Enrique fears that the presence of suspected robbers in their place will taint their reputation.

Palomaria, in an interview with Bombo Radyo, urged his constituents not to harbor criminals lest they will be charged with obstruction of justice.

Baraulan has become the Sherwood Forest of Iloilo province because this is where robbers allegedly hide from authorities.

Sherwood Forest, a royal forest in Nottinghamshire, England, became famous because of its historical association with the legend of Robin Hood, the thief who stole from the rich and shared his loot to the poor.

Brgy. Baraulan is the hometown of Dennis Cartagena, one of the suspects in the assassination of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas.

The Iloilo Provincial Police Office has tagged Baraulan as the refuge of robbers and guns for hire in the province.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz said the place is an ideal hiding place because of its elevated terrain. The alleged robbers in the village are also following the Robin Hood strategy by sharing their loot to the residents in exchange for protection.

Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and dela Paz went to Baraulan two weeks ago and held a dialogue with the residents to convince them to help authorities arrest suspected robbers and assassins hiding in their place.

Palomaria said he cannot stop anyone from residing in Baraulan as long as they are not violating the law

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