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Gunman in botched hit on lawyer was Awol cop

Lawyer survives ambush in QC thanks to quick-thinking companions, sees attempt on life as work-related
/ 05:06 AM February 14, 2018

Lawyer Argel Joseph Cabatbat (left) tells reporters how he survived an ambush carried out by three men, including PO1 Mark Ayeras. Cabatbat says his companion shot it out with the gunmen while his driver rammed the suspects’ motorcycles with his sport utility vehicle (top photo).—QCPD PHOTOS, GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

One of the three motorcycle-riding gunmen who tried to kill a lawyer in Quezon City on Tuesday was a police officers who had been Awol (absent without official leave) since last year, according to the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).

PO1 Mark Ayeras was killed after a companion of their target, lawyer Argel Joseph Cabatbat, shot him.

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Cabatbat’s driver also rammed the motorcycle carrying Ayeras, although investigators said it was still unclear if the police officer had died of his gunshot wound or due to injuries sustained from the car crash.

Dead giveaway

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The 32-year-old Ayeras was identified through the Philippine National Police ID card found in his possession.

Cabatbat said that at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, he, his driver and two other companions were in a black Montero Sport at the corner of Edsa and East Avenue when he saw a man on a motorcycle approaching their car and drawing a gun.

The gunman, later identified as John Paul Napoles, fired at the sport utility vehicle as the lawyer ducked.

Another motorcycle driven by a still unidentified man also drew alongside the SUV with the backrider, later identified by investigators as Ayeras, firing at them.

“I tried to reach for a gun in the compartment and one of my companions [who was riding in the front passenger seat] took it and started firing,” Cabatbat told reporters.

His companion, whom he identified only as Jon-jon, shot it out with the assailants and reportedly hit Ayeras once.

Cabatbat’s driver then rammed into Napoles’ motorcycle with the SUV, injuring the gunman’s foot. He then ran over the second motorcycle carrying Ayeras but its driver managed to run away.

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The twin collisions left the SUV lying on its side, causing minor injuries among its passengers.

Ayeras and Napoles were taken to East Avenue Medical Center where the policeman was declared dead on arrival.

Napoles, who yielded a .45-caliber firearm, was still confined in the hospital and refused to talk to investigators, said Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, QCPD director.

Cabatbat has turned over to the police the 9-mm gun used by his companion to shoot at their attackers.

He refused to identify the owner but assured probers it was a licensed firearm.

Hunt on for 3rd suspect

A manhunt, meanwhile, was launched against the third unidentified attacker who fled with the gun used by Ayeras.

Police records showed that Ayeras entered the service in 2010. He was assigned at QCPD, followed by the Southern Police District and, most recently, the Regional Public Safety Battalion of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

According to NCRPO chief, Director Oscar Albayalde, Ayeras last reported for duty in August 2017.

He was declared Awol after he went on leave despite the fact that his application had been rejected.

At the time he was killed, the policeman had asked to be reinstated and was working on his papers.

Albayalde said that Ayeras had no history of misconduct or of being linked to illegal activities.

Killers for hire?

Eleazar, meanwhile, said that Ayeras and the other suspects may have been part of a gun-for-hire group.

Last month, two motorcycle-riding men who killed two jail guards in Muntinlupa City also turned out to be police officers.

Cabatbat, meanwhile, said the attempt on his life could be related to his work as a private lawyer.

He had been receiving threats to his life in connection with a case against a doctor in Mindanao, he added.

“The reason why I am looking at this particular case is because there was already an incident where the complainant against [this doctor] was killed last December,” Cabatbat said.

He refused to give more details. –With a report from Matthew Reysio-Cruz

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TAGS: Crime, Quezon City Police District (QCPD)
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