Masbate mayor’s lover gunned down in Cebu

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013


CEBU CITY (Updated) -- A woman who was said to have been living with a mayor from Masbate was shot and killed, while the mayor’s sister was injured an hour after they arrived in Cebu City Monday morning.

Police investigators are considering all angles, including political rivalry or family conflict, as possible motives in the ambush that killed Crisanta Lauro, 39, wife of former Placer, Surigao del Norte Mayor Charry Mangako.

Lauro was two months pregnant. She was reportedly living with Pio V. Corpus Mayor Herminigildo Betonio III of Masbate, after leaving her husband last December.

Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Mariano Natuel Jr. said they reveal any suspects yet, since they are still awaiting a report on the victims’ background from the Masbate police.

Also injured in the attack that took place before 6 a.m. was Leny Betonio Eser, 46, a sister of Mayor Betonio. She is also a municipal councilor of Pio V. Corpus.

Police believe the two assailants, who shared a blue motorcycle, were not from Cebu as they did not bother to wear any mask or helmet to conceal their faces.

Masbate mayor's lover gunned down
THEY COULD HAVE BEEN FOLLOWED. Crisanta Lauro was in this taxi with her live-in partner’s sister when gunmen attacked them on V. Sotto St. in Cebu City. (Amper Campaña of Sun.Star Cebu)

Waited

Lauro died after being shot twice in the chest and head. A private hospital’s doctor declared her dead on arrival.

Councilor Eser was shot in her left hand and was already out of danger Monday.

Lauro and Eser had boarded the MV Lapu-Lapu from Masbate and arrived in Cebu City at 4 a.m. Monday. They stayed on the ship for an hour and got out an hour later, then boarded a taxi in Pier 3.

They told Gilbert Benito, who drove a Ken taxi (GXR-916), and told him to drive them to Talisay City, where Lauro reportedly owned a house.

Just as they reached the stop light at the corner of V. Sotto St. and Sergio Osmeña Blvd. in Barangay Tinago, Cebu City, two unidentified men stopped next to the driver’s side and fired four shots at Lauro and Eser.

Benito said the attack took less than 40 seconds.

The taxi driver later said he noticed the two assailants, who also stopped for the red light. But he was stunned to hear the gunshots.

He sped off in order to escape, but the attackers fired another shot, which shattered the rear windshield.

Help

Benito said he sought help from the taxi company’s base radio operator and asked him to call the police.

He denied speculations that he was involved in the shooting, because he reportedly asked the women if they were headed for Talisay City before they boarded his taxi. He explained to the police that he was about to go home to Talisay and was asking around for passengers going in the same direction.

He added that while heading to Chong Hua Hospital, he did not stop anymore for any traffic lights, for fear that the gunmen might still be tailing them.

“Akong huna-huna na kinahanglan nako sila dad-on sa hospital kay nangaigo man sila (I focused on getting them to the hospital because they were hit),” said Benito in a dyLa radio report.

He said that when they arrived in the hospital, he overheard Councilor Eser telling someone over the phone that they had been followed and she wished they had not decided to come to Cebu.

“Wala na kaayo ko kaklaro sa iyang giistorya kay daghan na ang tawo nitapok namo unya sige sad siya’g hilak (I couldn't hear the rest of it because people surrounded us and the woman kept crying),” added Benito in the same radio interview.

Followed

Sun.Star Cebu tried to contact Councilor Eser on Monday but had yet to get an answer as of press time.

Natuel said the police are still waiting to find out from Mayor Betonio if the couple had received death threats before the attack.

The police chief added they coordinated with the Masbate police for more background information on the victims.

“I’m not sure if they have been receiving death threats kay if naa pa, dili ni sila mokompyansa ug biyahe-biyahe na sila lang (because if that was the case, they might not have traveled on their own),” explained Natuel.

He said that the women may have been tailed from the time they boarded in Masbate until they reached Cebu City.

“Naa’y nagsunod ani nila nga nireport sa mga triggerman gikan sa paggawas nila sa barko (That person could have informed the triggermen as soon as the women left the boat),” added Natuel.

‘Insulting’

He said the police will gather witnesses who can describe the suspects’ appearances.

A closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera was also seen near the crime scene that might have recorded the incident.

However, Harold Alcontin of the Management Information and Computer System (MICS) of Cebu City Hall said that the camera, attached to a traffic light near the crime scene, has not been working for more than six years.

He said the CCTV project of the City Government is still ongoing and the security camera seen near the crime scene was installed by the Department of Public Works and Highways last 2007.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday urged the CCPO to “leave no stone unturned” in its investigation.

In his regular news conference, the mayor said he believes the incident was an insult to the city’s police force.

“Di gud taga diri, unya diri ig-on. Insulto na (They victims don’t live here and yet they were attacked here. That’s an insult to the authorities),” he said. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 16, 2013.

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