Cops begin ballistic tests on mayor’s guns
LAOAG CITY—Guns seized on Friday from Mayor Jessie Ermitanio of Marcos town are undergoing ballistic tests so police can determine if these were used in crimes in Ilocos Norte province or elsewhere in the country.
An AK-47 assault rifle, an M-16 rifle, a grenade rifle and .45-caliber pistols were some of the firearms seized by the Ilocos Norte police from Ermitanio’s house in Barangay Lydia in Marcos as well as from his other properties.
Whether these firearms were licensed or not, all seized items would be subjected to ballistic and cross-matching examinations, said Senior Supt. Jose Melencio Nartatez Jr., Ilocos Norte provincial director.
Ermitanio was implicated in the June 3 killing of his predecessor, Mayor Arsenio Agustin, after a suspect, Bernie Lazo, identified him as the mastermind. Agustin was killed while inspecting a water impounding dam project at Barangay Mabuti in Marcos.
Ermitanio, who was elected vice mayor, succeeded Agustin.
Lazo said Agustin and Ermitanio used to be allies. But when Ermitanio survived an ambush on April 4, he suspected that it was ordered by Agustin, Lazo said.
Ermitanio denied he owned the seized guns, and accused the police of planting these. He insisted that all his guns were licensed.
The mayor has been detained in the Ilocos police office in Camp Valentin S. Juan, pending the result of the investigation.
His personal driver, Renato Esta, was also arrested on a charge of possessing an unlicensed cal. .45 pistol and a shotgun taken from his house.
Ermitanio’s three other household workers, who were present when the police raided the mayor’s house, were also held by the Ilocos Norte Crime Investigation and Detection Group.
Agustin’s former employee, Oscar Julian, was detained after the police recovered a grenade from his house in Barangay Ferdinand in Marcos.
According to Nartatez, the police were gathering witnesses’ affidavits that would link Ermitanio to Agustin’s killing. —Leilanie Adriano
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