4 hired killers fall; elusive boss from Army
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has busted a gun-for-hire group allegedly led by an active member of the Philippine Army with the arrest of four of its members and the seizure of more than 100 firearms.
But the supposed leader of the group, T/Sgt. Robert Yadao, evaded agents of the NBI Death Investigation Division (DID) who raided his house on Mangga Street in Payatas, Quezon City, at dawn Wednesday. A total of 100 .45-caliber pistols were found inside one of the rooms.
The operation was a follow-up to Tuesday’s raid on the group’s safe house on Kapalaran Street in Commonwealth Avenue which resulted in the arrest of three other members.
They were identified as Gerry Tactacon, 41, a driver; Raquel Layusa, 36, a construction worker and Danilo Galvan, 24, a tricycle driver.
A fourth member was taken into custody earlier, although he was not identified and no details were given about how he was arrested.
NBI-DID head agent Ferdinand M. Lavin said they found out about the group’s activities after one of their targets, Butch Cosme, noticed them monitoring his movements.
This was confirmed by NBI senior agent Zaldy Rivera who said the gang members were caught casing the victim’s house when Cosme checked the footage taken by his closed circuit television camera.
Rivera said a photo of Cosme was found in the group’s safe house, including several firearms, ammunition, tear gas and drug paraphernalia.
On the other hand, seized from Yadao’s two-story house were 100 .45-caliber pistols and ammunition.
Also confiscated was a “a modified .45-caliber pistol converted into an automatic rifle that was at least six times longer than the standard handgun.”
Rivera said the seized firearm was of particular interest to them because it explained why the testimony of witnesses at times differed from the evidence gathered by investigators.
He recalled that the bureau had in the past encountered cases wherein witnesses would identify the weapon used by a suspect as a long firearm. Their testimony, however, would be contrary to the evidence found at the crime scene which would indicate that a short firearm or handgun was used.
He added that because of this, some cases were dismissed although the gunmen had been positively identified by witnesses as the perpetrators.
He described the modified .45-caliber pistol as equipped with a sling and sound suppressor, leading witnesses to conclude that it was a rifle, not a handgun.
“It will mislead any witness because what they will see is a firearm which looks like an automatic rifle, not a handgun based on other evidence recovered like the slugs,” Rivera added.
“Because of the discrepancy in the evidence, the charges are always dismissed because the lawyer would cast doubt on the credibility of the witness,” he said.
According to Rivera, Yadao’s wife told them that he was in Bicol.
Rivera, however, doubted whether this was true, saying that it was likely that the gang leader had spotters who tipped him off about their presence near his house.
“He was able to escape and had no time to gather up the firearms,” he added.
The other gang members, meanwhile, denied the allegation against them after they were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Rivera said they were still validating information that the group’s previous targets were prominent people.
“We have validated that they operate in Metro Manila and Luzon based on the information provided by a member of the group who had earlier been arrested,” he told the Inquirer.
He added that the seized firearms were now being examined by the bureau to determine if these were used in other killings.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.