Suspect in fatal ambush of mayor’s lover released

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013


THE man tagged as one of the gunmen in the shooting of a Masbate mayor’s lover was freed yesterday.

Aljon Ala, 32, surrendered to the Cebu City Police Office last Saturday to clear his name after he heard police were looking for him.

Crisanta Lauro, lover of Pio V. Corpuz Mayor Herminigildo Betonio III, had just arrived by boat in Cebu City last April 15 when she was gunned down in a taxi, along with Betonio’s sister Leny Eser, a councilor in the town.

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Eser said it was not Ala she saw during the shooting.

In an interview yesterday, she said she might recognize the gunman if she sees him, but she can’t give a detailed description.

She said he wore a black jacket and a cap.

Police asked Ala to put on a black jacket and a cap, but Eser could not be sure.

“Dili nako sure ani niya (I can’t say he was the gunman). 50-50 akong pagtanaw (It’s 50-50),” she said.

Ala, a resident of Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City, said he knew nothing of the crime.

“Saksi ang Ginoo na dili to ako. Wala gani ko kaila sa namatay (God is my witness that it wasn’t me. I didn’t know the victim),” he said.

Last Friday, police could not find Ala at the address provided by an informant.

“Pagkahibaw nako sa akong amigong police na akoy gipangita, mao tong niari ko diri (CCPO) para ma-clear akong ‘ngan (I turned myself in when my friend who is a policeman told me they were looking for me),” Ala said.

Motive for attack

Acting CCPO Director Mariano Natuel Jr. said the cartographic sketch they got from witnesses’ description matches Ala’s appearance.

Police also have a picture that resembles Ala, who is allegedly a former gun-for-hire.

Natuel said it was a good thing Ala went to their office, that way their investigation won’t be hampered by arresting the wrong culprit.

Meanwhile, Eser said they did not receive any threat prior to the incident.

She pointed to politics as a possible motive for the ambush.

“Clueless ko kinsa (I really don’t know). Kusog man gud among grupo didto sa amo (Masbate) para sa umaabot na election (But our group is going strong in the lead-up to the elections),” she said.

Eser said Lauro was active campaigning for her brother.

Eser also questioned taxi driver Gilbert Bernito, who allegedly did not try to lose the two men on board a blue motorcycle who were shooting at them.

“I told Lauro to take cover because the gunmen were still after us, but the driver, instead of driving faster, did not. That was how the gunmen were able to gain on us and shoot Lauro,” she said in Cebuano.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 23, 2013.

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