Retired Army officer found dead inside abandoned SUV in Tarlac

Tarlac earthquake

MABALACAT CITY, Pampanga — The body of a retired Philippine Army officer was found inside an abandoned sports utility vehicle along Romulo Highway in Tarlac City on Friday, the city’s police chief disclosed on Monday.

In a phone interview, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Helario, Tarlac City’s chief of police, said the body was found around 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 3 inside a black Toyota Fortuner parked on the south-bound shoulder of Romulo Highway in Sapang Maragul village.

Helario said identification cards found inside the vehicle showed that the victim was retired Army Lieutenant Colonel 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 remained unknown as of noon on Monday, as they had yet to receive the autopsy report.

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 Feb. 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 on.

This prompted them to report the matter to the police.

Responding lawmen 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.

The body was brought to a funeral home in Tarlac City for an autopsy or postmortem examination.

Helario said the investigation was ongoing to determine the identities of the suspects and the possible motive behind the retired Army officer’s murder.

He said the victim’s body had been brought to his hometown in Urbiztondo town, Pangasinan province. INQ


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