Cops foil plot to kill mayor in Nueva Ecija
SAN ANTONIO, Nueva Ecija — Police may have foiled an alleged assassination attempt on Mayor Arvin Salonga of San Antonio town with the arrest of two suspected guns-for-hire near the municipal hall on Monday.
Ruelito Roxas, 51, and Alex Panganiban, 42, both from Lucena City, had been under surveillance over the weekend when an informant tipped off the police that the suspects were hiding in a resort with guns.
Roxas, a retired police officer, and Panganiban were arrested outside the town hall on Monday, after the flag-raising ceremony, said Chief Insp. Marlon Cudal, San Antonio police chief.
“During the investigation, it turned out they were guns-for-hire and their target was Mayor Salonga,” he said.
Roxas and Panganiban faced charges of illegal possession of firearms and other weapons, Cudal said, after they were caught with three pistols, a hand grenade, a grenade rifle, two knives and several bullets.
Panganiban had denied having taken part in the murder plot.
But Roxas executed an extrajudicial confession naming a town councilor as the one who allegedly contracted him to carry out Salonga’s assassination.
The Inquirer contacted the councilor but he did not issue a statement.
The confession of Roxas was taken in the presence of public attorneys, Aysac Dalangin and Marilyn Sharina Tovera.
Citing initial reports, Cudal said Roxas and Panganiban arrived in San Antonio on July 29 and were staying at a resort.
They were seen in front of Salonga’s house and at a church where the mayor attended Mass on Sunday.
On Monday, Roxas was caught by closed circuit television cameras at the town hall compound before and during the flag-raising ceremony.
He pretended to be taking selfies. Salonga was at his office during the ceremony.
After the ceremony, Roxas entered the town hall to ask for business permit forms.
Policemen arrested Panganiban, who was waiting inside a parked car.
They found the weapons hidden inside the vehicle.
CCTV footage showed Roxas, who was carrying a gun, running from the town hall when he saw Panganiban being held but he was also nabbed by policemen.
Roxas had claimed he received an initial amount of P84,000 from the councilor, Cudal said, adding that a certain Nora was tasked to deliver the money.
Salonga’s lawyer, Arnold Castro, said they were preparing charges against the councilor and a former council employee whom they believed to be Nora. —Armand Galang
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