LEGAZPI CITY (20-Mar-2013/PNA) – The Bicol Regional Police Office has created a special task group now handling investigations toward the speedy resolution of the latest murders in Masbate that victimized two local candidates in the May 2013 elections.
Chief Supt. Clarence Guinto, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol regional director, said the investigation task group is headed by Senior Supt. Arnold Albis, the deputy regional police director, who also heads the Regional Special Operations Task Group fielded in Masbate, to help the provincial police force oversee the peaceful conduct of elections in the province.
“We want these cases solved the earliest possible time so that the suspects are charged in court and justice is achieved for the victims,” Guinto said.
He identified the victims as Isagani Lupango, the incumbent president of the Association of Barangay Captains who was running for vice-mayor of Mobo, and Ladislao Macuja, a town councilor of Balud running for reelection.
Police reports reaching the PNP regional headquarters at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here said Lupango was shot by a lone gunman as he emerged from a cockpit in the afternoon of March 9 in Mobo and died hours later while being treated at a hospital in Masbate City.
Macuja, on the other hand, was gunned down the following day in Barangay San Andres, Balud.
He died on the spot while his companion identified as Florido Villalobos was seriously injured.
So far, the investigation task group has already identified and filed charges against one suspect in the Lupango murder, a recent report submitted by Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, PNP Masbate provincial director, to Guinto said.
The suspect who remains at large was identified based on statements to the police given by the victim before he died, Olitoquit said in the report.
The identity of the suspect was withheld pending his arrest and identification of other personalities possibly behind the killing.
Two other murder cases that also victimized candidates for councilors in the municipalities of Aroroy and Baleno, Masbate last December, are in the hands of the local police.
Investigators were yet to determine the motives and identify the suspects.
The possibility that these murders are politically motivated remains the course being pursued by investigators but Olitoquit said “we are not discounting other possible motives in our investigations.”
Masbate is known for election-related violence due to heated rivalries among local political groups. (PNA)