Cops hunt mayoral bet tagged in Capiz killing

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ROXAS CITY—Police have launched a massive hunt against a mayoral candidate tagged as the mastermind in last year’s killing of a municipal vice mayor in Capiz.

Warrants for the arrest of engineer Leodegario Labao Jr. and four others were issued by the Mambusao (Capiz) Regional Trial Court’s Branch 21 on April 10 in connection with the death of Mambusao Vice Mayor Abel Martinez on May 4 last year.

The other suspects were identified as Geger Francisco, Sunday Danid, Army S/Sgt. Rommel Pamotillo and Roger Loredo. Only Labao and Francisco remain at large, according to Senior Supt. Domingo Cabillan, Capiz police director.

Martinez, 79, died from five bullet wounds after he was repeatedly shot by a lone man outside his house in Barangay Poblacion Proper, Mambusao town, 45 kilometers southeast of Roxas City. The killer fled on a motorcycle driven by a companion.

Labao, a contractor and owner of the Kirskat Venture construction firm, has denied involvement in the killing. He is running for mayor of Mambusao under the National Unity Party, which is allied with the United Nationalist Alliance.

Police believed he has gone into hiding after Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular issued the arrest warrant.

Martinez was being eyed as the mayoral bet of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) when he was killed. His daughter, Sharon Martinez-Martelino, along with independent candidates Edito Lacorte and Marlon Tupaz, is running under the LP against Labao.

Cabillan said Labao was considered “dangerous” because he had eight licensed firearms, including four M-16 and two M-14 rifles, and two handguns. The gun permits have been revoked by the police after the murder case was filed against him.

“We have tracker teams composed of intelligence units locating him but we are appealing to him through the media to surrender and face the charge,” the official told the Inquirer.

One of the respondents, Loredo, has tagged Labao as the mastermind in the killing, according to Cabillan.

Danid was arrested days after Martinez’s killing while Pamotillo surrendered to his Army superiors in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City last week.

“There is no politics here because the police are impartial. The case was even filed at the Department of Justice in Manila and we have a solid case against him because he was identified by Loredo,” Cabillan said. Nestor P. Burgos Jr. and Felipe Celino, Inquirer Visayas

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