CEBU

They came in full battle gear

TAKING ON ROLES. Witnesses say three armed men with long firearms emerged from a sedan and strafed San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya’s van. (SunStar photo / Alex Badayos)

SAN Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya and five of her companions were onboard a white van headed for Cebu City via N. Bacalso Ave. at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Reluya was accompanied by her husband Ricardo Jr., two bodyguards, Local Economic Investment and Promotions Officer Ricky Monterona, and their driver Allan Bayot.

As they entered Talisay City, the group decided to make a brief stop in Barangay Linao in Talisay City.

As Bayot maneuvered the vehicle towards the side of the road, a white sedan carrying four men suddenly stopped beside them.

At that moment, two men inside the sedan carrying high- powered firearms started shooting at the van.

These scenes were relived by police officers from Talisay City as they reenacted the incident on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 24, two days after Reluya and her companions were ambushed.

As their van was continuously peppered with bullets from high-powered firearms, a critically injured Bayot maneuvered the van to a nearby paint store, forcing the vehicle to encroach on the sidewalk.

At that moment, three of the suspects, carrying their weapons and in full battle gear, left the sedan, surrounded the van and started shooting at them again.

After shooting at the van, one of the suspects approached the rear of the van and started firing at its window to finish off the victims inside.

The three then returned to their vehicle before speeding toward Cebu City.

Supt. Marlu Conag, Talisay City police chief, said they conducted the reenactment as part of their investigation on Reluya’s ambush.

Conag and his investigators are part of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) tasked to investigate and identify those who ambushed Reluya and her group within two weeks.

Conag said they had to temporarily close a part of the national road in Barangay Linao to conduct the reenactment.

Conag admitted he could not provide full details on the progress of the case, especially since they are not leading it.

But they were tasked by the SITG leadership to secure witnesses and CCTV footage from various establishments situated near the crime scene to strengthen their case.

He admitted that some establishments near the crime scene that have CCTV cameras refused to cooperate with their investigation.

Conag said he has asked the assistance of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to subpoena establishment owners who refused to cooperate with them.

Conag said the ultimatum given to them by Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde is a big challenge, but he is confident they can comply with their targets with the help of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7.

The SITG has identified two persons of interest who may have knowledge on the ambush.

Supt. Virgilio Bayon-on, SITG spokesperson, clarified that these persons are not suspects yet.

The investigators, he said, are still building up the case to solve the crime within the two-week deadline given by Albayalde.

Bayon-on said they do not have strong evidence against the two persons of interest yet.

SITG members are not only focusing on politics as the motive behind the attack, but are considering other angles as well.

Investigators have received information, which Bayon-on did not divulge, saying revealing it could affect their investigation.

The SITG is composed of the CIDG 7, Regional Intelligence Unit 7, Regional Legal Division 7, Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) 7, Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division 7, Talisay City Police Station and the Cebu Provincial Police Office.

ACG 7 was tasked to obtain videos from closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras from establishments near the crime scene. The unit was also assigned to check the cellphones of the Reluyas.

For its part, CIDG 7 and other units were instructed to get the statements of witnesses who saw the armed men attack the van carrying the victims.

Bayon-on assured the public that the SITG’s investigation will not result in the arrest of wrong suspects. STIG, he said, also aims to arrest the mastermind, not just the gunmen. (With a report from AYB of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)


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