FIFTEEN unresolved Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) cases await newly installed Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) Director Col. Roderick Mariano, according to Chief Insp. Eloveo Marquez, head of the Provincial Investigation and Detection Management Branch.
“From 2016 to present, we have 15 pending SITG cases. All of these are shooting-related incidents involving either elected government officials or police personnel,” he said.
The oldest is Task Force Casiban, which was formed in 2016 yet, for the death of PO2 Ryan Casiban.
Eleven were created in 2018:
Sarzuelo in Tuburan for the death of PO1 Avita Agudo Sarzuelo; Alicaway in San Fernando for the death of Municipal Councilor Alexander Alicaway; Tilos in Alegria for the death of PO3 Jonathan Tilos; Dacalos in San Fernando for the death of Municipal Councilor Rene Boy Dacalos; Blanco in Ronda for the death of Mayor Mariano “Nonie” Blanco; Maya for the failed ambush of Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot; San Roque in Liloan for the deaths of 16-year-old student Jamie Mata and her lover Stephen del Corro, 27; Ramos in San Fernando for the death of Barangay Bulacao, Talisay City Councilor Dennis Ramos; Roslinda in San Francisco for the death of former Barangay Esperanza, Camotes councilor Marcelo Roslinda; Batomalaque in Toledo City for the death of PO2 Melchizedek Batomalaque; and Tecson in Carcar City for the death of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 7 operative Von Rian Tecson.
The remaining three SITGs were created in 2019 for the cases of Arriesgado in San Fernando for the death of Magsico Barangay Captain Johnny Arriesgado; Reluya in Talisay City for the ambush on San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya that killed her husband Ricardo “Nonoy” Reluya Jr. and two others; and Abueva in Ronda for the death of Ilaya Barangay Councilor Ramil Abueva.
As for the case of the slain Ronda Mayor Blanco, Marquez said the perpetrators remained unidentified.
“Padayon pa ang pag follow-up (We're still conducting a follow-up). Based on the statements of our witnesses, there were approximately four suspects. We have secured a CCTV (closed-circuit television) footage, but it has to be enhanced first due to its poor resolution quality,” said Marquez.
He said they are eying Blanco’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs as one of the possible motives for the attack.
Moreover, not one of the suspects in the Reluya ambush has been imprisoned.
“We still believe that the motive is election-related. The crime is solved after the identification of the two gunmen based on our witness, Giovanni Perez, their bodyguard who also survived the shooting. However, the two are still at large,” Marquez said.
Two of the gunmen had been identified as Jerome Labitad and Felix Abacajan Jr.. The two other gunmen and the mastermind remain unknown.
Labitad eluded arrest during a raid in his house last February.
Colonel Mariano, the new CPPO director, said he is already checking the status of these SITG cases as these might be included in his presentation when he and incoming governor Gwen Garcia meet on Monday, July 1, 2019.
SunStar Cebu also tried to get the SITG cases created by the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), but its information officer is on official leave.
SunStar Cebu also tried to updates from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7, which conducted parallel investigations on some of the cases under CCPO, including the fatal shooting of Fiscal Mary Ann Castro last Jan. 17.
But NBI 7 Director Tomas Enrile said they had to stop their parallel investigation on Castro due to the lack of evidence and witness.
“We were only able to investigate on how the crime was executed using the CCTV footage we got. As to the identity, we were not able to establish the identity nor the motive. Among the challenges we encountered included the availability of the witnesses. Also, we were not the first ones to respond to the crime scene. The crime scene investigation report is very important,” he said.
Meanwhile, Monique Roa, Castro’s daughter, said that although she’s dissatisfied with the progress of the investigation on her mother’s murder, she is giving the police some leeway to “do their job.”
“So far, we haven’t received any updates from the police. I am not satisfied (with the investigation) as I’d rather have the perpetrators be identified right now. Kung meron man akong masasabi sa (If there is something I can say to the) police, it’s for them to do their jobs,” she said.
Roa said she couldn't understand why authorities were having difficulty with the investigation, considering that the shooting took place during the height of the Sinulog celebration and in a public place.
“I was just disappointed that they were not able to secure the dashcam footage and the lack of a working CCTV. The SITG, however, is not an assurance,” she said. / WBS
From SunStar Cebu archives:
1. SITG Casiban
PO2 Ryan Casiban of the Cordova Police Station was found dead with a gunshot wound in the head on Aug. 12, 2016 in Barangay Agus, Lapu-Lapu City, two days after he went missing.
Before his disappearance, Casiban wrote the names of retired Police Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo and Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot in a police blotter.
“I want to write what is justice for all to stop all illegal drugs. God is in me,” read part of Casiban’s police blotter statement.
Loot denied he knew Casiban. However, Casiban's wife said in a television report that her husband had served as Loot's police escort.
Presidente Rodrigo Duterte tagged Loot and Garbo as "narco-generals," protecting drug lords when they were still in active police service.
2. SITG Sarzuelo
PO1 Avita Agudo Sarzuelo, 46, was the only active female officer shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Central Visayas.
Unknown assassins attacked Sarzuelo while she was driving her car some 50 meters from her residence in Tabuelan in the morning of July 12, 2018.
She was reportedly a batchmate of Kalunasan, Cebu City Barangay Councilor Roel Mabano, a retired Police Officer 3, and Ranilo Valiente, a retired Senior Police Officer 2. Mabano was shot dead outside the Kalunasan Barangay Hall on July 10, 2018, while Valiente was gunned down in Mandaue City on June 24, 2018.
Sarzuelo, a former member of the Tabuelan Police Station, was transferred to the CPPO Provincial Holding and Accounting Unit in September 2017.
She was reportedly linked to illegal drug trade.
3. SITG Alicaway
Riding-in-tandem assailants shot dead San Fernando, Cebu Councilor Alexander Alicaway on March 14, 2018.
Police said Alicaway had no criminal record and his name was not on the list of personalities involved in any illegal activity.
Alicaway had not report threats to his life before the attack happened.
4. SITG Tilos
PO3 Jonathan Tilos of Ginatilan Police Station was shot dead in Alegria after his gym workout on June 13, 2018.
Tilos, a former intelligence officer, reportedly had links to self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones.
He served as chief security escort to Michael Rama when the latter was still Cebu City mayor in 2012.
Tilos was reportedly a batchmate of Senior Insp. Raymond Hortezuela, who was killed in a drug bust in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City on June 10, 2018. Both entered police service in 2006.
Former CPPO Manuel Javier Abrugena said Tilos, 36, was in the government’s list of narco-cops.
5. SITG Dacalos
San Fernando Councilor Rene Boy Dacalos was shot by riding-in-tandem assailants on Jan. 10, 2019.
Police said Dacalos was in the drug matrix that linked him to self-confessed drug lord Sabalones.
6. SITG Blanco
Ronda Mayor Mariano "Nonie" Blanco III was shot dead inside his office on the second floor of the town hall on Sept. 5, 2018.
Four men armed with high-powered firearms barged inside his office where Blanco was sleeping.
The police station is just a stone's throw away from the Municipal Hall, but not a single officer responded.
The gunmen entered the mayor’s office through the back door near the Sangguniang Bayan building. The back door is about 10 meters from the police station.
Before it happened, 12 police officers were on night-shift duty. Shortly after midnight, five police officers went to Barangay Vive to implement warrants of arrest and five went on patrol, leaving two personnel in the police station.
In 2017, Blanco’s supervising power over the local police was stripped by the National Police Commission after he was included in the narco-list of the President. His two police escorts were also recalled.
Blanco's nephew, Ronda Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab, was gunned down in Cebu City by riding-in-tandem assailants on Feb. 19, 2018.
Ungab's wife Pearl was with him when he was shot while driving his car outside Qimonda Building-Cebu City Hall of Justice.
Ungab had attended the promulgation of cases faced by his client, Eastern Visayas “drug lord” Kerwin Espinosa before the attack happened.
7. SITG Maya
Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot and his family were unharmed after five armed men attacked their group on May 13, 2018, a day before the barangay and youth council elections.
The incident happened at the New Maya Port in Barangay Maya, Daanbantayan.
Loot’s two drivers, the nanny of Loot’s grandchild and a porter were hit during the attack.
8. SITG San Roque
A man and woman were found dead with gunshot wounds in the head in the mountain village of San Roque, Liloan on July 24, 2018.
They were later identified as Jamie Mata, a 16-year-old Grade 9 student, and Stephen del Corro, 27, a member of a fraternity.
Mata and del Corro were last seen drinking on the night of July 23 in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.
In Liloan, Mata was seen first in Purok Sandayong 1, San Roque around 9 a.m. July 24. Thirty minutes later, del Corro was found in Purok Kawasan 1, San Roque, about 1.2 kilometers from where the body of Mata was found.
9. SITG Ramos
Dennis Ramos ranked seventh among the new set of councilors of Barangay Bulacao, Talisay City after the barangay and youth councils elections on May 14, 2018.
On May 17, Ramos was shot dead by riding-in-tandem gunmen in Barangay Pitalo, San Fernando.
Ramos was about to open the door of his vehicle, which was parked in front of his hardware store, when the culprits shot him multiple times.
10. SITG Roslinda
Former Esperanza barangay councilor Marcelo Roslinda, 59, was driving his vehicle when he was shot dead in San Francisco, Camotes on June 14, 2018.
His bodyguard Marlon Jayuma, 36, and Enny Jay Tampus Andrade, 27, were also killed by two men riding a motorcycle.
11. SITG Batomalaque
PO2 Melchizedek Batomalaque was killed by two assailants outside his residence in Toledo City on June 19, 2018.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Debold Sinas confirmed Batomalaque’s inclusion in President Duterte’s list of alleged players in the illegal drug trade.
He said Batomalaque, identified as a high-value target, was transferred to PRO-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2016. He reportedly received an award for his work as an intelligence officer in the unit.
12. SITG Tecson
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 operative Von Rian Tecson was shot dead while he was inside his vehicle in Barangay Perrelos Cebu on Aug. 8, 2018.
Tecson was on the passenger's seat of his Ford Ranger when he was attacked. He reportedly was able to shoot back at the gunman, who was seen boarding a sports utility vehicle.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, in a television report, identified SPO1 Roderick Balili as part of the group that ambushed Tecson.
Balili died after he figured in what Police Regional Office 7 Director Debold Sinas described as "accidental firing" during a surveillance mission on a drug personality in Pinamungajan.
Balili succumbed to two gunshot wounds in the chest.
Sinas denied Balili shot Tecson.
On July 27, 2018, Tecson's fellow PDEA 7 officer was also shot dead on Villalon St. in Cebu City.
13. SITG Arriesgado
Magsico, San Fernando Barangay Captain Johnny Arriesgado was shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants on Jan. 16, 2019.
Arriesgado was driving his multicab at the time.
When he was still a municipal councilor in 2017, Arriesgado was arrested by operatives of the Regional Special Operations Group during separate raids.
He was accused of being an illegal drug protector and of having links with self-confessed drug lord Sabalones.
14. SITG Abueva
Ilaya, Ronda Barangay Councilor Ramil Abueva was shot dead on April 7, 2019.
He was on on board his motorcycle when he was shot by an unknown gunman.
15. SITG Reluya
On Jan. 22, 2019, San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya survived an ambush in Barangay Linao, Talisay City.
However, her husband Ricardo “Nonoy” Reluya Jr. and two companions were killed during the attack by men armed with automatic rifles.
Two bodyguards also survived the attack.
The assailants were transported by a van.