THE police has identified one of the two gunmen-for-hire killed in a gunfight along Yacapin-Daumar Streets, Cagayan de Oro City on Sunday, February 19.
Cogon Police Station Chief Inspector Gilbert Rollen identified Monday, February 20, one of the killed gunmen as Raymond Villanueva of Barangay 18.
Rollen said Villanueva was the gunman who shot and killed Jabar Ukay-ukay worker Mawi Batuintan.
Villanueva’s dead accomplice remains unidentified while a third suspect, said to be wounded after he was shot by Batuintan’s unnamed associate or associates, has eluded arrest.
"Gipa-check nato ang mga CCTV sa area ug gipostihan ang mga hospital kay gituohan nga samdan ang isa pa ka suspek (We checked the CCTV footages in the area and assigned policemen in hospitals because it is believed the suspect is wounded)," Rollen said.
Police are also looking for the suspect or suspects who engaged and killed the two gunmen-for-hire and who may have unintentionally hit the elderly bystander.
The police has turned over the .45 caliber pistol recovered from the dead suspects to the Philippine National Police crime laboratory for ballistic examination which may lead to identifying the owner of the firearm.
The police’s cyber crime unit is also looking into Villanueva's cellphone to examine the phone’s cache of text messages which may possibly include exchanges between Villanueva and the person who hired them.
Rollen said investigators had initially found some messages on Villanueva’s phone regarding instructions on how to carry out the assassination plot.
Rollen added that the cellphone and the weapon used in the gunfight are helpful in tracing its owner.
Case investigator Senior Police Officer 2 Neil Delas Alas said Villanueva was the backrider gunman.
He said Villanueva was originally from Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental and previously had construction jobs in Iligan City before temporarily staying at his sister's house in Magsaysay Street.
Investigators said Villanueva and his two companions may have been contracted by a Maranao family involved in a blood feud or "rido."
Rollen said Batuintan was a relative of a political familiy in Pantar, Lanao del Norte.
A relative of Batuintan had supposedly sought assistance from the police after receiving threats weeks ago.
The City Council on Monday, meanwhile, wants Rollen relieved for his supposed "negligence" which resulted in Sunday's gunfight.
Councilors Ian Nacaya, Reuben Daba, Eric Salcedo, George Goking, Romoe Calizo, Maria Lourdes Gaane, were among those who favored to pass the resolution while Councilors Nadya Emano, Leon Gan, Jay Pascual, and Lordan Suan voted against it.
Councilors Teodolfu Lao Jr., Alam Lim, Jun Acenas, Suzette Magtajas-Daba, and Annie Daba, meanwhile, abstained from the voting.
Proposing a more radical course of action, Councilor Eric Salcedo said it may be best to remove and replace all police personnel under the Cogon police station.
"How come they immediately concluded that it was rido?" the councilor said.
Salcedo said all of the police officers in Cogon are incompetent, pointing out that this is the second time a shooting incident happened in Cogon after the fatal shooting of traffic enforcer Cris Cabingas in December last year.
"How come nga mas una daw niresponde ang Macasandig police station? Pasabot walay police visibility diha, wala pa gyud dayon ka-respond nga pila lang na ka-lakang diha," (How come the Macasandig police station allegedly was the first to respond? It means there is no police visibility because they were not able to respond considering they were just a few steps away) Salcedo said.