Raid on resort in Panglao owned by alleged mastermind
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol—The alleged mastermind and the gunman in the killing of an environmental lawyer eluded arrest on Friday morning.
Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga, 34; and Romarico Benegi-an, 33, a native of Davao del Norte province, had left their rooms at the resort owned by Gonzaga when police came.
Gonzaga, a resident of Panglao town in Bohol province, was tagged as the mastermind in the killing of Mia Manuelita Mascariñas-Green, who was shot while driving home with her three children and nanny on Wednesday afternoon.
Gonzaga was linked to the killing after he figured in a verbal altercation with Green in a courtroom recently, police said.
Green was legal counsel of Conrada Blomqvist, who sued Gonzaga over a land dispute in Panglao, a tourist area known for white sand beaches and posh resorts.
Sources said Gonzaga’s father has close ties with high-ranking officials of the government.
Benegi-an was identified by witnesses as one of four motorcycle-riding men who blocked the Toyota Innova of Mascariñas-Green at the corner of H. Zamora and J.A. Clarin Streets in Dao District.
Green was then headed home for Loon town.
The assailants fired at the lawyer as her children and their nanny watched in horror at the backseat.
Gonzaga and Benegi-an had been arrested in October last year for illegal possession of firearms and drugs during a raid in Panglao.
They were released after posting bail.
Police secured a warrant to search Alona Embrace Hotel, owned by Gonzaga and where the suspects had been hiding.
The two, however, were no longer in their rooms.
Police found two grenades, a .45 cal. pistol, a .38 cal. revolver and two packs of “shabu” (crystal meth) in the room.
Environment and lawyers’ groups condemned the killing of Green, a member of the Environment Legal Assistance Center.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bohol chapter declared Friday as “Day of Mourning and Protest” against the killing of Green.
Lawyers and court employees wore black armbands.
Friends organized a tribute for Green to be held today.
The environmental group Greenpeace demanded justice, describing Green as a staunch environmental lawyer.
In a statement, Yeb Sano, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said nearly 100 “environmental defenders” had been killed since 2010 because of a climate of impunity in the Philippines.