TEN high-powered firearms allegedly used in gun-for-hire operations were seized from a casino lending investor in a casino firm based in Mandaue City on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
Authorities identified the suspect as Rolando Pantilope, alias Enting or Tingting, 46, a resident of Sitio Malacorong, Barangay Usmad, Argao. He is a lending investor at Pagcor Filipino in Parkmall, Mandaue.
In a press conference Wednesday, March 8, Police Lieutenant Colonel Franco Rodulf Oriol, Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) deputy city director for operations and spokesperson, said they served a search warrant against the suspect in his residence after finding out his vehicle might be involved in a shooting incident that occurred in Mandaue on January 31.
He said they were surprised to find out that the vehicle had several high-powered guns inside, leading them to believe Pantilope’s involvement in the shooting incident.
Shot dead on January 31 was Conrado Cosares, 44, a resident of Barangay Duljo Fatima, Cebu City, whom Oriol said was also a lending collector of the same firm.
The victim was shot twice in the head by two unidentified men onboard a gray-black Suzuki Raider motorcycle along EO Perez St. in Barangay Subangdaku.
Oriol said that based on a closed circuit television (CCTV) footage, the gunmen came from the suspect's sport utility vehicle (SUV) before they boarded a motorcycle to tail and eventually shoot the victim dead.
"It is possible that he was the watcher of the hitmen who reported if the victim had already got out of the casino the day of the incident," said Oriol.
Recovered inside the vehicle were four caliber .45 pistols, a caliber .40 pistol, M16 assault rifle, two shotguns, a caliber .22 pistol with a silencer, a .357 magnum, various gun magazines, and bullets.
The guns were all unlicensed.
The police have been looking into three possible angles in Cosares' shooting: his conviction of illegal drugs in 2021, personal reasons, and his job as a lending collector.
Oriol said ended up looking at one possible reason, which is the victim's line of work due to Pantilope's arrest.
He said they believe the suspect was part of at least a six-member group of gun-for-hire men who are tasked to kill the victim.
Another theory they are looking at is the competition between the suspect and victim in terms of work.
Oriol said they continue to deal with the suspect through interviews to see if he could spill more pieces of evidence.
The suspect is detained at the MCPO Station 2 in Barangay Subangdaku and will face charges for illegal possession of firearms.
The firearms would be subjected to a ballistic and cross matching examination at the MCPO Crime Laboratory to determine if these were used in several shooting incidents in Cebu.
Oriol said they might file additional cases against the suspect once the examinations are completed. He added that they are hunting down Pantilope’s cohorts.
"We are confident that we can solve a lot of shooting cases, even the previous ones in Cebu, through this case," said Oriol. (HIC)