PNP probes ambush-slay of 2 ex-Cagayan mayors, 2 aides

>> Monday, February 22, 2021

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- The Cagayan Police Provincial Office (CPPO) has created Special Investigation Task Group Salazar (SITGS) to determine the brains and the killers of two Lasam town former mayors and two others.
    One of the former mayors was in President Duterte’s narco list.
    On Monday, Lasam Councilor Marjorie Apil Salazar, a former town mayor; Lasam councilor Eduardo Asuten, also a former mayor and vice mayor; John Rey Cortes Apil, 24; and Aiza Salvador Manuel, 31, were killed in an ambush in Barangay Ignacio B. Jurado.
    Apil and Manuel were Salazar’s driver and secretary, respectively.
    Col. Ariel Quilang, CPPO chief, said Director Crizaldo Nieves of the Police Regional Office 2 immediately ordered the formation of SITGS, which is composed of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, police legal and intelligence offices and Lasam police station.
    Quilang said the SITGS would carry out a thorough investigation on the attack. Lasam acting police chief Maj. Pablo Tumbali was given 72 hours to resolve the case.
    “We are not discounting politics as one of the motives in the killing of the two local government officials and two employees,” he said.
    On Nov. 29, 2020, the municipal administrator of Lasam was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men.
    The victim, Augustos Agatep of Callao Sur village in Lasam, was killed in Callao Norte village.
    Witnesses could not identify Agatep’s assailants who fled on a motorcycle after the incident.
    In the case of Salazar and the three other victims, Quilang said they were also looking into the possible involvement of the     New People’s Army (NPA) since there were leaflets scattered around the crime scene bearing the name of Danilo Ben Command, an NPA wing operating in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley).
    “We are gathering intelligence information if the NPA rebels had something to do with it after the culprits allegedly left subversive documents,” he added.
    Lasam police said the victims were on board a white Toyota Hiace vehicle with plate No. YN 1266 when they were ambushed.
    The victims’ van was approaching Ignacio B. Jurado village in Lasam town when passengers of two vehicles — a blue Hyundai Accent without registration plate and a white Toyota Wigo, heading west — sprayed bullets at the vehicle of the victims.
    Responding police brought the victims to the Lasam District Hospital, a few steps away from the crime scene, but were pronounced dead upon arrival.
    Police said there were at least six gunmen who sprayed the van with more than 200 bullets based on the empty shells gathered at the crime scene.
    The victims died from multiple gunshot wounds.
    Maj. Pablo Tumbali, chief of the Lasam police said Salazar’s vehicle crashed into the wall of the hospital while the assailants sped away.
    Probers recovered bullet shells at the crime scene.
    Before fleeing, the assailants left a sign marked “sumampa iti NPA” or the NPA strikes again.
    In 2016, President Duterte tagged Salazar as among local officials involved in the illegal drug trade.
    Salazar’s inclusion in Duterte’s narco list stemmed from the discovery of a shabu laboratory in Lasam when she was mayor.
    Salazar denied the allegations including speculation that she was related to the owner of the property where the supposed shabu laboratory was located. -- By Leander Domingo, Raymund Catindig and Victor Martin


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