Amante attack well-planned, say cops
(Editor’s note: It was erroneously reported that the Amante clan of San Pablo City owned Armak Motors. While the Amantes are known for manufacturing and trading jeepneys and running several shops in Laguna, Armak Motors was not one of them. Armak Motors was founded by the late Wan Ko Lao in 1979 and is now a family-owned corporation run by the Lao family. The Inquirer apologizes for the error.)
SAN PABLO CITY—One of three vehicles used by the suspects in the killing of suspected drug lord Damaso Amante here was traced to a trading company based in Quezon City, the police said.
Supt. Ronan Claravall, city police chief, said the assailants used three vehicles in what he described as a “well-orchestrated, well-planned” attack.
Damaso, 64, a brother of former San Pablo City Mayor Vicente Amante, was attacked at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday along the national highway in Barangay Del Remedio.
It happened across the Armak Motors, a motor vehicle shop owned by the Amantes, whose jeepney business thrived in the 1970s.
Claravall said security cameras in the vicinity showed that Damaso was alone driving his Toyota Innova when his path was cut by another Innova.
“One of the gunmen got off and fired several shots at the driver’s seat [of Damaso’s vehicle]. When he observed that [Damaso] was down, another stood by the passenger’s side and fired another round of shots,” Claravall said on Friday.
Police said they recovered at least 50 empty shells from various high-powered guns in the scene. A gate of one of the houses in the area had several bullet holes.
After the shooting, the suspects’ vehicle drove off tailed by a motorcycle. Another vehicle, a Nissan Urvan, followed them, Claravall said.
In an earlier interview with the Inquirer, Vicente, who retired from local politics in 2013 and was succeeded by his son, Loreto, said Damaso used to be an illegal drug pusher.
But Vicente said Damaso had stopped his illegal activities 10 years ago.
President Duterte earlier named the Amantes of San Pablo as among local officials allegedly linked to drugs.
Claravall said police cannot speculate on the motive behind the attack.
“Let’s wait for the results of the investigation,” he said.
Claravall said a special investigating team was formed to look into the case. Police, he said, were working on the sketches of the suspects, based on descriptions given by witnesses.
On Friday, Damaso’s remains were taken to his mother’s house in Barangay San Juan.
Relatives declined to give any information to reporters, saying they were waiting for Damaso’s wife to arrive from Australia.
Damaso faced illegal drug charges following the raids in 2001 and 2007, but the cases filed against him were eventually dismissed. He ran but lost in the 2016 elections as representative of Laguna’s fourth congressional district.
Aside from Damaso, Vicente also named their other brother Edwin as a former drug user. —KIMMY BARAOIDAN AND MARICAR CINCO