ILOILO CITY, Philippines – A former policeman, who was acquitted of the murder charge related to the February 11, 1986 killing of former Antique Governor Evelio Javier, was shot dead in this city Wednesday evening by two unidentified men armed with assault rifles.
Physicians pronounced Jimmy Punzalan dead on arrival at the Western Visayas State University Medical Center due to multiple gunshot wounds including in the head, said Senior Supt. Ruperto Floro, Iloilo City police director.
The gunmen entered the Papa Jim’s Sea Bounty Restaurant, which Punzalan owned, around 9:30 p.m. and repeatedly shot the victim who was watching television.
The restaurant is located at the Boliland Food and Drink Garden in Barangay Bolilao in Mandurriao District.
A bullet grazed Shirley Medalla, an employee of Punzalan. She was taken to the Iloilo Mission Hospital but was released after treatment.
Investigators recovered empty shells of 5.56-millimeter ammunition believed to be from Baby Armalite rifles.
Witnesses told investigators that the gunmen, wearing short pants and caps, entered from the parking area at the back of the restaurant and fired at Punzalan from a distance of eight meters. The gunmen fled in a silver gray Toyota Fortuner vehicle.
Floro said investigators were still determining the identity of the gunmen and the motive of the killing.
“There several possible angles so we have to check what could have motivated the killing. But Jimmy did not show or say anything to indicate that he was facing threats,” Floro told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Floro said the gunmen were believed to be hired assassins based on their movements.
“This was planned and they were already familiar with the area,” he said.
Punzalan was president of the Philippine Constables Association Inc., an organization of retired and former Philippine Constabulary (PC) members on Panay Island. The PC was one of the national police forces along with the Integrated National Police that was merged into the Philippine National Police.
Punzalan was among the 18 accused in the Feb. 11, 1986 killing of Javier.
Javier was gunned down by heavily armed men at the public plaza of the capital town of San Jose during the canvassing of votes of the snap presidential elections contested by Marcos and the late former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino.
During the trial, prosecution witnesses had alleged that Punzalan, along with lawyer and then fellow accused Avelino Javellana, brought a sack containing firearms to the resthouse of Pacificador in Barangay Tarangting in the capital town San Jose where the alleged gunmen stayed days before Javier’s killing.
Punzalan had repeatedly denied involvement in the killing and unsuccessfully petitioned the Department of Justice to drop him from the list of accused.
On October 13, 2004, the Antique Regional Trial Court acquitted Punzalan, along with three other suspects, including former Antique assemblyman Arturo Pacificador in the murder of Javier and the wounding of Javier’s supporters.