CAGAYAN Police Provincial Office director, Colonel Ariel N. Quilang yesterday announced the arrest of a 51-year-old Sangguniang Bayan member and his worker-turned prime suspects in the summary execution of four men whose bodies were found inside a car abandoned in Piat municipality early morning Tuesday.
The official identified the suspects as Joey Bargado, a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Amulung, Cagayan, and 50-year-old construction worker Jojo Vergara, a resident of Annafunan East in Tuguegarao City.
The two were arrested in a warehouse owned by Bargado in Barangay Pacac Grande in Amulung where the victims were believed to have been summarily executed before their bodies were loaded in their car and abandoned near a local cemetery.
“The two suspects were seen in pictures taken by one of the victims before they were shot to death. It turned out that the victim forwarded their pictures to his wife. We have also two witnesses who testified that the two were with the victims before their bodies were found,” Quilang said.
In a report to Police Regional Office 2 director, Brigadier General Angelito A. Casimiro, the Cagayan police director said that at least two other suspects who remained unidentified as still being hunted in connection with the gruesome multiple murder case in Piat.
The two are believed to have escaped on board a Toyota Fortuner being sold by the victims before they were killed. Quilang said that apparently, the killers wanted to burn the bodies inside the car as evidenced by the recovery of gasoline and combustible materials in the area but the plan did not materialize due to the possible presence of witnesses at the scene.
He said the arrests were made shortly after the bodies of Michael Eugene Romero Jr., alias ‘Rolly Bayonto Bernas,’ a resident of Molino 3, Bacoor City, Cavite; Joey Bolado, of Tangway, Lipa City in Batangas; Christian Kaibigan alias ‘Joshua Nathan Fortun Blanco,’ a resident of Balintawak, Lipa City; and Rommel Quinan, a resident of Malibu Street in Fairview, Quezon City were discovered in Bgy. Villa Rey in Piat around 4:45 a.m. Tuesday.
The bodies of the four were found inside a white Honda City with plate no. DAD-3558 whose records are still being checked by the Cagayan police with the Land Transportation Office.
Quilang said they are looking into two motives behind the killings: carnapping and double-cross.
He said they have information that the victims were engaged in the buy-and-sell of motor vehicles acquired thru the so-called ‘Rent-Sangla’ scheme in which vehicles acquired thru bank loans are being sold fraudulently to either witting or unwitting victims in the countryside.
“We are looking into those angles since two of the victims used fictitious names and addresses based on the IDs recovered from them,” said Quilang.
Quilang and his men led by Lieutenant Colonels Ramil Alipio and Godofredo Wasin and Majors Jeofferson Gannaban and Edgar Manuel Jr. led the investigation of the case which resulted in the immediate arrest of the suspects.
The official said a joint investigation conducted by members of the Cagayan PPO and the Piat Municipal Police Station showed that a white Toyota Fortuner with plate no. DAJ-7470 was driven by two of the victims’ car as they traveled from Manila on their way to Tuguegarao City.
Quilang said that they had a breakthrough in their investigation when the wife of one of the victims sent them photographs of a warehouse/buying station where the four stayed before they were killed.
“We believe that the victims were killed inside this warehouse,” he said. Forensic experts from the PRO2 Crime Laboratory are still sifting pieces of evidence at the crime scene as of press time.