PNP launches manhunt for Pangasinan councilor who shot retired soldier
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Police launched on Sunday night a manhunt for a town councilor of Sta. Maria in Pangasinan province who shot and wounded a retired Army colonel.
Senior Insp. Roldan Suitos, Sta. Maria police chief, said a team was scouring places in Pangasinan and other provinces where Councilor Gilbert Cantoria may have sought refuge.
At 5:20 p.m. on Sunday, Cantoria shot retired Army Col. Arnold Blanco, 66, in front of the latter’s house in Barangay San Alejandro. Blanco was hit in his right jaw.
Suitos said Blanco was in stable condition in a local hospital.
Cantoria, who was reelected in May for a second term, escaped aboard his car after the shooting.
“When we were informed that Councilor Cantoria headed for Asingan [town], we conducted a hot pursuit operation. We found his car inside the compound of his friend in Barangay Ariston Weste,” Suitos said.
“But he might have seen us because he was able to escape by jumping over a fence. He vanished in the vast rice fields,” Suitos said.
On Sunday night, Suitos said Cantoria sent surrender feelers. But he said Cantoria might have changed his mind.
“We are now looking at the possibility he may have gone to Metro Manila or the Ilocos provinces. But it is still possible he is in Pangasinan,” Suitos said.
He said the shooting could have been triggered by a shouting match that Cantoria and Blanco had on Nov. 1.
Blanco reported to Sta. Maria police on Nov. 2 that while he was on his way to the town’s public cemetery on his bike, Cantoria, who was in his car, allegedly almost bumped him.
Cantoria then supposedly uttered invectives and threatened Blanco.
“But we learned the two already quarreled months ago over the [speed bump] that Blanco had built on the barangay road in San Alejandro. The councilor was against it,” Suitos said.
Investigators said that before the shooting on Sunday afternoon, Blanco was talking to the son of barangay captain George Claridad of neighboring Poblacion East at the road shoulder in front of Claridad’s house.
As they were talking, Cantoria, who was driving his car, passed by and tried to bump Blanco but missed.
Blanco then decided to walk home to San Alejandro. On his way, Blanco saw Cantoria and cursed at him.
Minutes later, Cantoria shot Blanco using a .45-cal. pistol. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon