The alleged assassin was just “too stoned” to talk about his high-profile hit.
The suspected gunman in the Jan. 24 killing of Mayor Erlinda Domingo of Maconacon, Isabela province, was arrested in a Quezon City slum area late Friday night, officials announced on Saturday.
Investigators, however, still could not get the man to “talk straight” hours after the capture as he was still high on drugs, according to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
Marsibal Abduhadi alias “Bagwis” was reportedly in the middle of a drug session together with a woman inside a shanty when cornered by some 200 policemen around 11:30 p.m. in the Salaam Mosque compound in Culiat, Tandang Sora. Hours before the operation, police got a tip on his location following a minor fire in the area, where he was seen outdoors carrying a submachine gun.
“According to a report from the Quezon City Police District, when they arrested Bagwis he was so high on drugs that he cannot talk straight. So we will wait for him to give his account of what happened,” Roxas said in a press conference at Camp Crame.
“We will have to wait for some time to talk to him and get some sensible information from him when he’s sober,” Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit head Chief Insp. Rodelio Marcelo said in an interview at the QCPD.
“He (Abduhadi) had a submachine gun by his side when we got him. That means he is alert even if he is using illegal drugs,” added QCPD director Senior Supt. Richard Albano.
“He never left (the area after the killing) because he thought he was safe there. He thought wrong about Culiat. There are still tipsters there,” Albano added. “Salaam Compound was his haven, so he was relaxed. He didn’t think that we’d storm his hideout.”
Abduhadi, 29, was arrested together with Jennifer de Guzman, a resident of Barangay Old Balara also in Quezon City.
The police said they recovered an Intratech 9-mm submachine gun with two magazines, another magazine for a .25-cal. pistol, two fragmentation grenades and a jacket marked with the word “police” inside the shanty that allegedly served as the suspect’s hideout.
Abduhadi and De Guzman also yielded four sachets of suspected “shabu,” four sachets of cocaine and one sachet of marijuana, along with drug paraphernalia, the police said.
According to Albano, the QCPD received information a day after Domingo’s killing that a man in a police jacket was seen carrying a high-powered gun in the Salaam compound and that he was the same man known as “Bagwis” who was linked to the ambush.
Domingo was shot dead on Jan. 24 as she was getting out of her Mitsubishi Adventure outside Park Villa Apartelle on Examiner Street, Quezon City. Her driver and bodyguard, Bernard Plasos, also sustained a gunshot wound in his right thigh in the attack.
Plasos later pointed to Abduhadi, or Bagwis, as the alleged gunman.
Before Friday night’s arrest, police captured three other suspects Tuesday night, namely Christian Pajenado, Michael Domingo and Abduhadi’s wife Mary Grace. The three were charged with murder and attempted murder in the city prosecutors’ office.
Insp. Elmer Monsalve of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit said his men were able to double-check Abduhadi’s identity with Jaymar Waradji, a Salaam compound resident and one of the suspects in the November 2012 killing of commercial model Julie Ann Rodelas.
“He (Waradji) and Bagwis knew each other so when we showed him a photo of Bagwis, he said it was him,” Monsalve said.
Hours before Abduhadi’s arrest, a small fire broke out in the Culiat area around 8 p.m., causing panic among the residents. “Bagwis was also startled by the fire and he was seen brandishing his gun again,” Albano said.
Around 10 p.m., 200 policemen began scouring the dimly-lit alleys for Abduhadi.
“It was really dark and far deep into the compound. We needed that many men because it was dangerous for just a handful,” said deputy director for operations Senior Supt. Neri Ilagan, who led the operation dubbed “Oplan Galugad.”
Roxas said investigators will use the accounts given by the four arrested suspects to piece together the plot behind Domingo’s killing, which was initially believed to have been politically motivated.
But Roxas maintained on Saturday that to say anything about the motive or the mastermind would still be “pure speculation” at this point. “It is better we complete the full investigative process, debrief or interrogate the suspects, including Bagwis.”