Gun recovered from mall robbery try suspect traced to village exec’s license
MANILA, Philippines—The pistol recovered from a slain suspect in the Alabang Town Center robbery attempt on Friday was traced to the license of a barangay (village) official in Cagayan Valley, a police official said Sunday.
Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, head of the Southern Police District, said a check with the Philippine National Police’s firearms and explosives office showed that the Caspian .45-cal. pistol was traced to the gun license registered under the name of the barangay official, who was not identified.
In an interview early Sunday, Estipona said the license owner would have to explain how the robbery suspect, identified through an identification card as Pepito Paler, managed to get hold of his gun or, at least, the details of his gun license.
The suspect was killed when he and several armed men shot it out with the security guards at the driveway near the mall’s Madrigal Avenue entrance at around 10:20 a.m. on Friday. It was the second robbery case at the same mall in 2012.
Two security guards were shot and wounded but were later declared to be in stable condition at the Alabang Medical Center.
After the shootout, an explosion rocked the branch of the Sterling Bank of Asia, a short walk from the mall. Police believed it was the robbers’ diversionary tactic in their escape.
Estipona said that after an initial investigation, they learned that the pistol of the suspect had the same serial numbers of the licensed firearm of the Cagayan Valley official.
“The license holder is a barangay official in Cagayan Valley. He sold the firearm to another barangay chairman in the province,” Estipona said, adding investigators were given a copy of the deed of sale.
The new owner of the firearm, however, has in his possession a firearm with the same serial number as that of the slain suspect’s gun. “Therefore, it appears that the pistol recovered from the slain suspect is an undocumented twin of the gun in Cagayan Valley,” Estipona said.
“It was obvious that the serial number of the suspect’s gun was tampered with,” Estipona said.
Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, Metro Manila police chief, said on Saturday a special task group—composed of SPD personnel, Muntinlupa police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and other allied agencies such as the Highway Patrol Group—was formed to thoroughly investigate and solve the robbery attempt.