Police call for witnesses in Pirote abduction probe

THE Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) is urging witnesses to surface to help them identify the perpetrators behind the abduction of a retired police officer who was linked to illegal drugs in Bacolod City last week.

Police Colonel Henry Biñas, officer-in-charge of BCPO, said they have difficulty looking for witnesses who can testify on the incident.

“We’re really trying to establish the identities of the perpetrators but we need the cooperation of the witnesses,” he added.

The testimonies of the witnesses will help us solve the crime, since we do not even have physical evidence from the crime scene, Biñas.

Earlier, Police Brigadier General John Bulalacao, director of Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas, said nobody would cooperate in the investigation.

Biñas said there were some who already gave their statements regarding the incident but it was not made through a sworn affidavit.

On April 19, Police Major Lito Pirote was forcibly taken by three unidentified armed men to a white van outside a hotel in broad daylight.

The two security guards of the hotel were reportedly disarmed and some guests were told to drop to the ground but were left unharmed.

Biñas said they have viewed the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage installed at the hotel but they cannot release a copy of it because it might have sensitive information which is not allowed for public consumption.

The copy of the CCTV footage also cannot clearly identify the faces of the persons involved in the abduction incident.

Meanwhile, the conduction sticker number of the vehicle that they got is registered to an owner of a sports utility vehicle and not of a van which was used during the incident, Biñas said.

“We are still trying to check it with the authorities because it might be a carnapped vehicle,” he added.

He also said that he was able to get some information after talking to the children of Pirote, but he cannot divulge the specific details as of press time while investigation is ongoing.

He just mentioned that before the abduction happened, Pirote visited his lawyer at the hotel after a case filed against him was dismissed.

Despite the challenges they are facing in the investigation, the BCPO head believed that Pirote is still in Negros Occidental because all the entry and exit points are manned by law enforcers as part of the security measures during the Holy Week.

He said they will tap other law enforcement units like the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Highway Patrol Group, and the Anti-Kidnapping Task Group in the Visayas to help them in their investigation.

A Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Pirote will also be created to focus on probing the incident, he added.

When asked about the possibility that the incident might be drug-related, Biñas refused to confirm it, though there were reports that Pirote was among the five police officials who were relieved from their posts after they were named by Duterte in the drug matrix for allegedly engaging in the recycling of illegal drugs in 2018.

Pirote was assigned at the Philippine National Police - Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group before he had his optional retirement from the police service in January this year.


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