FEELING the heat of a massive police manhunt, embattled Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo yesterday surrendered to the local court who ordered his commitment at the Legazpi City Jail, Police Regional Office 5 director, Brigadier General Arnel B. Escobal said.
Escobal said that Baldo, accompanied by members of his family and lawyer turned himself over to the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 at around 8:30 in the morning. Judge Maria Theresa Loquillano ordered him brought immediately to the Legazpi City Jail and set his arraignment in connection with the murder of AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe on May 30.
Batocabe’s family said they were happy with the surrender of Baldo who has been tagged by the police as the mastermind in the assassination of Batocabe and his policeman-bodyguard , Senior Police Officer 2 Orlando Diaz last December.
“We are very happy and grateful to the police, prosecutors and the RTC (Regional Trial Court) for their hard work in putting Mr. Baldo behind bars,” said Batocabe’s son Justin who expressed optimism they have a strong case against the mayor who went into hiding after the court issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday last week.
Baldo is facing charges for double murder and six counts of attempted murder after six senior citizens were also injured in the attack which took place while Batocabe was leading a gift-giving ceremony in Barangay Burgos in Daraga last December 22.
Batocabe was supposed to run against Baldo as mayor of Daraga, along with Daraga Vice Mayor Victor Perete. Following his killing, Batocabe’s wife Gertrudes substituted him as the Daraga mayoralty candidate.
Journal Group sources earlier said that some local authorities tipped off Baldo of his impending arrest on Friday last week to give him ample time to escape. The Albay Police Provincial Office and the Daraga Municipal Police Station only got a copy of the warrant of arrest last Monday.
In a report to Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, Escobal said PRO5 tracker teams launched a massive hunt for the official and searched his residence and other areas he used to frequent.
Gen. Albayalde said that the mayor will have his day in court now that he has surrendered.
Prior to the issuance of the warrant of arrest against him, Baldo has been busy campaigning for reelection while on temporary bail.The embattled mayor was arrested by the police last January 22 over an illegal possession of firearms case but was released on a P3 million bail by Judge Loquillano last February.