Cops gun down New People’s Army hitman

A SUSPECTED New People’s Army hitman said to be involved in the assassination of at least three police officers and men in Calabarzon region was killed in a gunbattle with agents of the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group and the Laguna Police Provincial Office early morning yesterday, officials said.

Armed with a caliber .45 pistol, the suspect identified as Christopher Esabia traded shots with members of the Regional Intelligence Units 4-B and 4-A in his hiding place in Barangay Palma 2 in Alaminos, Laguna around 7:30 a.m. and was killed in the process, said PNP-IG director, Brigadier General Edgar S. Monsalve.

According to the official, his men, joined by operatives from the Laguna Police Provincial Office and the Alaminos Municipal Police Station, all under Colonel Eliseo Matta and the Police Regional Office 4-A headed by Brig. Gen. Edward E. Carranza were about to serve a warrant of arrest issued against the suspect for violation of Republic Act 8294 or illegal possession of firearms in relation to the Omnibus Election Code when he exchanged fire with the lawmen.

In a report to PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, Monsalve said that the slain suspect is a veteran member of the NPA’s SPARU or Special Partisan Unit operating in different parts of Calabarzon region.

Monsalve said that the suspect is wanted for his involvement in the assassination of a number of policemen and political personalities in Laguna and Batangas provinces including the late Police Superintendent Rodney Ramirez and Police Officers 1 Oliver Ilagan and Christopher Tria and civilians Danilo Yang and Dante Liwag.

The NPA admitted its role in the killing of Ramirez in July 2011 claiming the victim was shot dead as “blood payment” for his alleged involvement in killings in the Southern Tagalog region as well as his anti-poor actions when he was still the Sta. Rosa City police chief in the province.

The police official was riding a bike in Bgy Butong in Taal, Batangas when gunmen riding a van killed him.

Both PO1s Ilagan and Tria were killed in Balayan, Batangas while Yang was shot dead in Bgy. Bautista in San Pablo City, Laguna. Liwag was gunned down in Bgy. San Benito in Alaminos, Laguna, the official said.