Most wanted man killed in raid

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

THE most-wanted person in Cebu City was killed in a shootout with police during a raid in Sitio Bocawe, Barangay Pamutan, Cebu City last Sunday night.

Rodrigo Labitad, 51, was shot in the chest and right armpit. He died on the spot.

Labitad was in a drinking session allegedly inside the house of Barangay Councilor Clemente Rago when police raided the area at 8:30 p.m.


Operatives of Cebu City Police Office's Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB) conducted the operation after receiving a tip.

Armed with an arrest warrant for murder, the police went to the area, but one of Labitad’s drinking buddies noticed the presence of authorities.


PO2 Crisostomo Bayato told Sun.Star Cebu they surrounded the house and told Labitad to surrender.

Several civilians, including women with children, were asked to go outside first.

Labitad took cover with his friend and shot Bayato but missed.

The suspect then opened fire at PO3 Philip Ray Alcazar but missed as well.

Alcazar fired at the fleeing Labitad. The suspect was hit but managed to walk a few meters, before slumping to the ground.

Recovered from Labitad's possession were a .45 pistol with seven live bullets, four spare magazines loaded with seven live bullets each, 34 live bullets placed inside empty cigarette packs, a jungle bolo, and a fragmented hand grenade.

Last Jan. 3, the suspect also traded gunfire with Bayato but eluded arrest.

He had been hiding from authorities for almost two decades, taking refuge in the remote mountain barangay.

In the previous police raid, he was shot in the back but was able to flee with a high-powered carbine rifle.


A wounded Labitad managed to escape by jumping into a stream. Police gave chase but lost sight of him.

Labitad, reportedly a former member of the New People’s Army, was charged with four counts of murder and attempted homicide. A reward of P300,000 was set for his arrest.

Chief Insp. Bonifacio Garciano, head of IDMB, told Sun.Star Cebu that several residents were “secretly happy” with Labitad's death.

During the recent All Saints and All Souls’ Day, the suspect allegedly ran amok because of drunkenness and fired his gun several times.

“Nanion pa gyud kuno ni. Maong mahadlok gyud sila ani niya (He pointed guns at residents, causing fear among them),” Garciano said.


Police also learned that Labitad also harassed a motorcycle-for-hire driver and refused to pay after he was brought to the house Rago, one of the village's barangay councilors, last Sunday.

Garciano said they suspected Labitad was behind the death of police asset Joe Briones several months ago. The victim had provided the police information about Labitad's whereabouts last January.

Garciano, during the interview, said they plan to file a complaint against Rago for failing to inform authorities of the suspect's location.

Meanwhile, responding policemen will be awarded for the successful operation, said Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr., head of Police Regional Office 7.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 27, 2012.

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