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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.”

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MURDER charges will be filed this week against the alleged gunman of provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, said they are refining their case against the triggerman who is believed to be a resident of Iloilo province.

 

Tobias said eyewitnesses identified the suspect through his photographs.

 

The ICPO chief said they also provided security to the witnesses after receiving reports that they are being threatened.

 

“As a matter of procedure, we secure the witnesses to prevent the suspects from harming or influencing them. We will file the case as soon as possible,” Tobias said.

 

Tobias said they continue to check the background of the gunman, particularly his criminal records.

 

Del Castillo was walking towards their home in Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo district Friday afternoon when two motorcycle-riding suspects shot him with a caliber .45 pistol.

 

Tobias is still cautious to reveal the motive for del Castillo’s murder “but we are continuously liaising with the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the victim’s family.”

 

“There are a lot of angles and until the investigation is finished, we cannot speculate,” he added.

NOT YET ALARMING

Tobias also allayed fears of local leaders and the business community of the reported presence of hired killers in Iloilo City.

 

“I don’t think the situation is alarming but we advise our people to be vigilant against suspicious looking persons. Please report to us any unusual event or strange persons in your communities,” he added.

 

Intelligence operatives of the ICPO are now monitoring the reports and movements of alleged assassins in the city, Tobias said.

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