Killings in upland mining community alarm police, townsfolkBy Melvin Gascon
Inquirer Northern Luzon
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—A village official and an aide were shot and killed on Friday by an unidentified man in what police described as a foiled robbery in upland Didipio village in Kasibu town, site of a planned large-scale mining project.
Senior Insp. Michael Esteban, Kasibu police chief, said Jerry Linagga, Didipio village council member, and his brother-in-law, Valentino Wanatan, were shot while they, along with two others, were trying to come to the aid of a neighbor whose house was being ransacked by burglars around 10 p.m.
“No description of the suspects was given because the place was so dark, and they (victims) were caught by surprise because their attackers came from behind them,” he said.
Police said Linagga and his group went to the house of Marivic Ude-e after she sent them a text message about the presence of intruders in their house.
But as the group was forcing open the main door of Ude-e’s house, a man from outside the house fired at them, killing Linagga and Wanatan instantly, Esteban said.
“[Linagga’s group] could have trapped the intruders inside the house, which probably caused some alarm for the gunman,” he said.
Their companions, village guard Rudy Pumihic and Jake Duyapat, were unhurt.
“Initial investigation would point to attempted robbery, but we will still look deeper into the case,” Esteban said.
Erenio Bobbola Sr., Didipio village chief, expressed concern over the apparent proliferation of unlicensed high-powered firearms in the village, as police investigation disclosed that an M-16 Armalite rifle was used in the shooting.
“It shows the suspects’ boldness of the suspects as they carried out the killing even if a guard outpost [of mining company, OceanaGold] is just nearby,” he said.
OceanaGold is the Australian company that is building facilities for its gold-copper mining project in Didipio.