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FOR ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS

Cops arrest Albay mayor in killing of Batocabe

Cops arrest Albay mayor in killing of Batocabe

HANDCUFFED Mayor Carwlyn Baldo is handcuffed by Chief Insp. Ronnie Fabia, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Albay province, after illegal firearms were found in his compound at Barangay Tagas in Daraga, Albay. —MICHAEL B. JAUCIAN

DARAGA, ALBAY—Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, the alleged mastermind in the killing of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, was arrested on Tuesday for illegal possession of firearms, a nonbailable offense.

A team of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) officers led by Senior Supt. Arnold Ardiente served on Baldo a search warrant signed by Executive Judge Elmer Lanuzo of the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition around 2:30 p.m.

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Police recovered two .45-caliber pistol, one M203 grenade, eight .45-cal. bullets, one 5.56-millimeter bullet and one magazine for an Uzi machine pistol in Baldo’s house at Barangay Tagas here, said Chief Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson for the Bicol police.

The search was witnessed by Baldo’s wife, daughter and mother, as well as by Warren Bahillo, village chief of Tagas.

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Baldo has denied that he had a hand in the killing of the lawmaker, who had declared he would run against the mayor in May’s midterm elections.

6 suspects in custody

The mayor was taken last night to the CIDG office at Camp Simeon Ola, where he would be detained and his mug shot and fingerprints taken.

Inquest proceedings would immediately follow, said Chief Insp. Ronnie Fabia, CIDG provincial director.

Baldo was earlier named by the suspected gunmen as the mastermind in the killing of Batocabe and his security escort, SPO2 Orlando Diaz, at a gift-giving event at Barangay Burgos, Daraga, last Dec. 22.

All six suspects in the killing are in police custody.

The CIDG also recovered the Isuzu Alterra believed to be used by the suspects as getaway vehicle.

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“I am innocent of any accusations against me. I did not order the killing of Congressman Batocabe and his security escort,” Baldo said at a press conference early this month.

“I assert my innocence. Let us not forget that while I am being used as a convenient scapegoat, those who are truly responsible for the crime remain free and blameless,” he said.

The mayor did not issue a statement about his arrest, which came a month after Batocabe’s killing.

More pieces of evidence

On Friday, Baldo said at a press conference that a local court in Albay had issued a warrant against him to allow investigators to search his house for additional evidence in the murder of Batocabe.

Baldo said he was not bothered by the warrant but was worried about “planted evidence.”

“What scares me are the possibilities of planted evidence like a grenade and high-powered firearms,” he said.

“We know that these are nonbailable offenses when found in your possession,” he said.

Baldo gave assurance that he would face head-on all the accusations thrown against him in court.

In an earlier interview, Justin Batocabe, a son of the slain lawmaker, said the family would “welcome if a warrant of arrest will be served very soon on Mayor Baldo.”

He said that as a lawyer, he understood that due process would have to be followed.

“I am happy that all suspects are in custody and I thank the police and the Philippine Army for that,” he said.

The young Batocabe added that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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TAGS: Carlwyn Baldo illegal possession of firearms, Rodel Batocabe
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