Cops eye murder raps vs gunman’s cohortBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
IMUS, Cavite, Philippines–Police are set to file charges of multiple murder against John Paul Lopez, the companion of the gunman responsible for the rampage that left eight people dead and 12 others wounded.
Senior Superintendent Alexander Rafael, Cavite police director, Saturday said their decision to charge Lopez was based on the accounts of three residents.
He said the witnesses recounted how Lopez “willfully handed over” the bullets to the gunman, Ronald Bae, to reload the .45 caliber pistol used in the shooting spree in Kawit, Cavite on Friday.
“(Lopez) also did not appear constrained,” Rafael said, contrary to Lopez’s claim that he was forced.
Lopez, 27, from Rosario, Cavite was turned over to the authorities by his relatives at around 6 p.m. on Friday. He was the caretaker of Bae’s house in Barangay Tabon I, Kawit.
Even if Lopez did not fire the gun, “it was established that he was a conspirator. We are preparing a case of multiple murder with counts according to the number of persons killed,” said Chief Insp.
Reynaldo Magdaluyo, chief of the Cavite Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit which now has custody over Lopez.
Nine people, including the gunman, were killed in the carnage that left a close-knit neighborhood in fear. The police on Saturday identified them as Alberto Fernandez, 55; Boyet Toledo; Irene Funelas, 38; Al Drio, 20; Michaella Andrea Caimol, 7; two-month pregnant Rhea de Vera, 34; and de Vera’s daughter Jan Monica, 3. A list from the Cavite provincial government, however, included, a certain Adoracion Cabrera.
The police said 12 others, two of them children, were injured.
It remains uncertain as to what triggered Bae to snap but his wife, Maria Elena, told police that his husband had been acting strange since Dec. 30.
She also said Bae, who had stopped taking shabu a long time ago, suffered a relapse in October.
“She said (Bae) was hallucinating and they always fought since,” Rafael said.
According to the wife, John Paul celebrated the New Year’s Eve with them in Guagua, Pampanga but he and Bae left for Kawit the following morning. Bae also owned a rest house in Tagaytay City, but it was not clear what his source of income was.
Rafael said Bae tested positive of alcohol, based on initial autopsy findings but they have to conduct further tests to see if he was under the influence of drugs.
The Cavite police was held responsible over the mass murder, especially after it was discovered the murder weapon was unlicensed.
But Rafael said the Kawit police did not receive any report that Bae had fired his gun indiscriminately days prior to the shooting spree.
“Not a single report, otherwise we would have acted on it,” he said.
He also denied reports that the police response came too late.
“It was a tricycle driver, who was able to rush two wounded victims to the hospital, who came to the (police) station and reported it first. In three to five minutes, our men were at the scene,” Rafael said.
But a resident, interviewed by the INQUIRER, said he was able to call the police for help from his phone while hiding from the gunman behind a concrete wall. He said it took some time before the police arrived.
The crime scene was around five kilometers from the Kawit police station.
Chief Insp. Joel Saliva, Kawit police chief, was relieved from his post and replaced by Chief Insp. Egbert Tibayan.
Rafael also said they would beef up their campaign against loose firearms and road checkpoints in all towns and cities.
There are currently around 7,700 unlicensed firearms in Cavite alone.