A FORMER New People’s Army rebel-turned militiaman tagged as the gunman in the killing of AKO Bikol Party-List Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his policeman-bodyguard last December 22 on Thursday surrendered to his Army superiors in Sorsogon.
Henry Yuson, initially described by PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde as an NPA rebel who surrendered to authorities and later became a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit being run by the Army’s 9th Infantry Battalion, was tagged as the main gunman who shot Batocabe allegedly with a cal. 40 pistol.
PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director Chief Supt. Amador Corpus said that Yuson yielded to his superiors in Sorsogon on Thursday afternoon. The Army turned over the suspect to the Albay Police Provincial Office and the 5th Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit.
PRO5 director Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal said they also found out that Yuson has a standing warrant of arrest for rape.
“With the gunman in custody, we now have an airtight case that we will present in court to ensure successful prosecution of all accused,” Albayalde said.
Officials said that Yuson corroborated the testimonies of Christopher Naval alias “Tuping” and Emmanuel Judavar that Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwin Baldo offered them P5 million to assassinate Batocabe after the victim announced his plan to seek the Daraga mayoralty in August last year.
According to the Albay PPO, Yuson has executed an extrajudicial confession in the presence of a lawyer, detailing his personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the murders.
Albayalde also said that another suspect, Jaywin Babor alias “Jie”, is already in police custody after he surrendered to authorities following his indictment before the Albay Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday.
Babor is an ex-Army man who was designated as driver of the getaway motorcycle used by the gunmen, the PNP chief said.
The Daraga mayor has denied the charges against him.
“I assert my innocence. Let us not forget that while I’m being used as convenient scapegoat, those who are truly responsible for the crime remain free and blameless,” Baldo said.
Albayalde said that the case is solved but not closed as he identified Mayor Baldo as the “brains” behind the killing of Rep. Batocabe and SPO2 Orlando Diaz during a gift-giving program for senior citizens and people with disability in Bgy. Burgos in Daraga.
Joined by Corpus and PNP Intelligence Group director Sr. Supt. Edgar Monsalve, Albayalde said persons involved in the assassination surrendered to the police and pointed to Mayor Baldo as the one who masterminded the attack that also wounded seven elderly citizens.
DILG TO REVOKE DARAGA MAYOR’S AUTHORITY OVER POLICE
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano warned politicians who resort to killing of opponents just to ensure their hold on power.
According to Ano, “political terrorism” is a no-no especially in the forthcoming midterm elections. He said the DILG-Philippine National Police will never allow it.
Ano issued the statement after the filing of double murder and multiple frustrated murder cases against Mayor Baldo and several others in connection with the killing of Batocabe and his police escort.
Batocabe was described as the closest rival of Baldo in the May elections.
“Let this, therefore, serve as a stern warning against all politicians not to intimidate, harass, or do violence against their political opponents in the forthcoming elections, otherwise the DILG-PNP will run after them and ensure that justice will be served. I have placed the PNP on heightened alert to monitor the activities of all candidates in the forthcoming elections,” the DILG chief said.
The DILG chief also said that he will convene the National Police Commission to revoke Mayor Baldo’s authority over the officers and men of the Daraga Police Station.
The DILG-PNP he said is also committed to dismantle private armed groups of politicians as well as revoke the firearms licenses of those found to be violating the law.
“It does not matter if you are a congressman, governor or mayor, no one is above the law and we will implement the law without fear or favor,” he said.
GMA VISITS SLAIN SOLON’S WAKE
House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo-Arroyo yesterday praised the Philippine National Police for its swift action in the Batocabe killing.
Arroyo was the first member of Congress to visit the wake of Batocabe.
“I would like to commend the PNP for solving the murder of our colleague, AKO Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his police escort SPO2 Orlando Diaz,” Arroyo.
Arroyo said the entire House of Representatives deeply appreciates the dedication and hard work of the police force who went after the perpetrators of the despicable act in such a short time.
“Now that the mastermind and all his co-conspirators have been identified, our law enforcement agencies must ensure that they be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Arroyo said.
With Jester Manalastas and Joel dela Torre