Batocabe slay: DOJ travel watch sought vs Baldo
The Philippine National Police on Saturday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue an immigration lookout bulletin against Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, the suspected brains behind the killing last month of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his police escort.
The request for DOJ assistance came as the fifth and sixth suspects in the assassination surrendered to the police in Albay province and Masbate City on Saturday morning.
Police said Rolando Arimado, the alleged backup gunman, and Danilo Muella, tagged as the supplier of the guns for the hit job, were now detained at the regional police office detention cell in Albay.
In a brief statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra acknowledged the police request for the issuance of the lookout bulletin against Baldo.
“We shall take such action as may be appropriate,” Guevarra said.
Entry, exit monitored
According to Justice Undersecretary and spokesperson Mark Perete, the lookout bulletin is intended only to monitor the entry or exit of a subject through the country’s airports and seaports.
PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde on Saturday said the surrender of Arimado and Muella was “expected to complete the puzzle in uncovering the truth behind this double murder and multiple frustrated murder case.”
Arimado, 50, surrendered an Uzi machine pistol when he turned himself in to the police at Barangay Nursery in Masbate City. He was accompanied by his wife, Amelita, and a son, also a militiaman like his father.
Batocabe and SPO2 Orlando Diaz were shot dead by four to six men during a Christmas event for the elderly at Barangay Burgos, in the mountainous part of Daraga, on Dec. 22.
Seven people, mostly senior citizens attending the event, were wounded in the attack.
The primary gunman, former militiaman Henry Yuson, surrendered to the police on Thursday and admitted his role in Batocabe’s killing.
Presented to the media by Albayalde on Friday, Yuson pointed to Baldo, Muella and Christopher Naval as the planners of the attack.
Yuson said he was ordered to kill the party-list lawmaker because Baldo wanted to “permanently” remain as mayor of Daraga.
Family members said Batocabe received death threats after a local poll showed him leading the field in the town’s mayoral race.
Naval, a former Army soldier and head of Yuson’s militia unit in the Visayas, was the first to surrender on Dec. 30. Fellow suspects Jaywin Babor and Emmanuel Rosello surrendered to the police on Friday and Thursday, respectively.
Babor was the driver of the motorcycle Yuson rode to escape, police said, adding that Babor fled to Metro Manila following the killing.
Rosello drove the other motorcycle ridden by Arimado, a former member of the Army’s Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, who acted as the backup gunman, police said.
The PNP earlier filed murder and frustrated murder charges against Baldo and the six-man hit squad.
Quoting from Naval’s statement after his surrender, Albayalde said Baldo offered P5 million for the killing of his rival in the May elections.
Baldo faced reporters in Daraga on Thursday to deny involvement in the killing of Batocabe and said he was being used as a “convenient scapegoat.”
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said the suspects may have turned on Baldo after a delay in the payment of their fee for killing Batocabe, and because of “pressure” applied on them by their former colleagues in the military intelligence community.
Albayalde on Thursday said Baldo’s involvement was first disclosed by Emmanuel Judavar, a former employee of the mayor who claimed he was part of the planning, but not the execution of the assassination.
Sen. JV Ejercito hopes that the resolution of Batocabe’s assassination would put an end to politically motivated killings in the country by sending the message that guns for hire and masterminds wouldn’t be able to escape accountability anymore.
Also on Saturday, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Bicol denied Albayalde’s claim that Yuson was a member of their organization, and said the “black propaganda” was meant to drag the NPA into the killing of Batocabe. —With reports from Stephanie Florida, Shiena Barrameda and Leila B. Salaverria
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