MANILA, Philippines — A retired Army officer was found dead inside his car in Tarlac City over the weekend, the police said Monday.
In a phone interview, Lt. Col. Jim Helario, Tarlac City’s chief of police, said the body was discovered inside a black Toyota Fortuner parked on the south-bound shoulder of Romulo Highway in Sapang Maragul village around 10:30 a.m. on February 3.
Helario said identification cards found inside the vehicle showed that the victim was retired Army Lt. Col. Joselito Bulatao Mondero, 55, a resident of Urbiztondo town in Pangasinan.
The identification cards include a driver’s license, an Armed Forces of the Philippines retired officer card, a firearm ID, and a permit to carry firearms.
Helario said the SUV’s registration papers (NIB 3582) bear the name of Mondero, with the latter’s address at North Fairview, Quezon City.
He said the victim’s cause of death was still unknown as of noon on Monday, as they had yet to receive the autopsy report.
The cadaver was brought to a funeral home in Tarlac City as investigators had requested the conduct of an autopsy or postmortem examination on Mondero’s body.
Investigators likewise asked for a digital forensic examination on the mobile phones that were also recovered from the scene.
They also sought to secure footage from the CCTV installed around the area and the dash cam in Mondero’s vehicle.
So far, authorities have collected sworn statements from two security guards on duty at the time the victim was discovered.
Initial investigation showed that security guards of a subdivision noted the parked black SUV with its engine running and hazard lights on around 6:30 p.m. on February 2.
Around 10:30 a.m. the next day, the security guards were surprised to see that the vehicle was still there, with its engine and hazard lights still on. This prompted them to report the matter to the police.
Responding police officers found the victim’s body lying inside the SUV’s trunk, covered with sacks.
It was learned that the still unidentified perpetrators tried to set the vehicle on fire, but only the front was burned.
Helario said the investigation is still ongoing to determine the identities of the suspects and the possible motive behind the retired Army officer’s murder.
Police said Mondero’s remains were eventually brought to his hometown Urbiztondo.
His vehicle, on the other hand, was placed under the custody of the Tarlac City Police Station 5 in Tibag. town.
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