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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.

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2 guns used in rice trader’s slay

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO different firearms may have been used in the shooting to death of a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo last Christmas Day, according to the PNP autopsy reports.

Dr. Owen Libaquin, PNP medico legal officer, said Carmelino Bachoco of Brgy. Talokgangan, Banate died of eight gunshot wounds in his body and head.

Based on sizes of the victim’s wounds, Libaquin surmised that Bachoco was shot with two different guns compatible with a caliber .45 pistol and a firearm of lower caliber.

The medico legal officer said the shooter or shooters were at an elevated position as the bullet wounds followed a downward direction.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body while a bullet only grazed his head.

The police only recovered a caliber .45 pistol and 16 empty shells of caliber .45 bullets.

The main suspects in Bachoco’s death are Banate Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal and his sons Jerson and Peter Paul.

The shooting incident happened past 10pm of December 25 at the Banate town proper, some 200 meters from the police station.

According to police reports, Bachoco was on his way home on board the trisikad of his worker Rally Beljera when the Cabangals allegedly chased him.

The Cabangals claimed that Bachoco was first to draw his gun.

Mayor Cabangal and Jerson were wounded in their feet. How? The police are still looking.

Beljera, who was also wounded in the shooting, is considered a witness in the incident by the police.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo provincial police director, said Beljera has issued his statement on the incident.

“Once the witness is well, we can have him review his statement so he can subscribe and sign his affidavit,” Gumban said.

Bachoco reportedly had an axe to grind with Mayor Cabangal when the latter ordered the demolition of his store in Banate reclamation area.

The Cabangals cannot be reached for comments.

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