THE series of killings prompted leaders of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 to add more personnel to two police offices, in hopes of adding to their visibility and checkpoint operations.

Meanwhile, the Mandaue City police arrested four suspects, one of them a woman who is the alleged mastermind, in the shooting of Debbie Yu and her driver Sonny Boy Mahilum last Aug. 4 in Barangay Cabancalan.

They were arrested without warrants.

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Yet even as the police stepped up its actions, a 52-year-old driver of a delivery multicab was killed in another ambush in Cebu City yesterday morning.

PRO 7 Director Lani-o Nerez met with the city and provincial directors of Cebu City, Cebu Province, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City yesterday to discuss measures in going after assassins who use motorcycles.

Nerez said he would have scheduled the meeting earlier but all operatives had their hands full following up the major cases in their areas.

He got an update on the attacks on a former mayor of Compostela, an anti-crime group in Bogo City, a teacher in Minglanilla, an engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways and a businesswoman in Mandaue City.

Nerez said he hoped to allay the fears of community leaders on the series of hits in Metro Cebu since late June.

He assigned additional personnel yesterday from the Regional Public Safety Management Battalion to the Cebu City Police Office and Mandaue City Police Office, while retaining those who are under their field training program.

The city and provincial directors of Cebu were given orders to strictly implement random checkpoints and reminded about the need for visibility patrols.

They were also told to “analyze the crime clocks.”

Nerez also clarified a possibility that Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia raised about vigilantes being behind the spate of ambush hits.

Nerez said these are not vigilantes.

Checkpoints

He said those involved in the killings are illegal drug trade operatives who decided to take on gun-for-hire duties on the side.

He also clarified the killings were not related and have different motives. 

He instructed his men to focus on those suspected killers who have not yet been “neutralized.”

For those who are under threat, Nerez said he has instructed the Police Community Relations Division to disseminate tips on what to do.

He urged those who receive threats to be vigilant and immediately report any threat that they receive to the nearest police station.

And if they notice anybody following them, “Get the plate number, the model and make of the motorcycle or vehicle, the clothes, and any distinguishing mark of the person,” he urged.

Cebu Provincial Police Chief Erson Digal said he and his police chiefs will be meeting Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia tomorrow.

Garcia will be their guest of honor during a ceremonial burning of seized marijuana plants and the destruction of seized illegal gambling machines.

He said he was instructed by Nerez to intensify the checkpoints in the urban areas of the CPPO such as in Talisay City, Minglanilla and from Consolacion up to Danao City in the north.

He admitted that they could not be visible in each corner of Cebu, saying the lack of personnel was not only a problem in Central Visayas but in the whole country.

Another one

A 52-year-old driver of a delivery multicab was killed in another ambush in Cebu City yesterday.

Rufino Deresas of Sitio Anahaw Nazareth, in Barangay Buhisan, Cebu City died on the spot after getting shot in the left arm, left shoulder and twice on the left side of his body.

Deresas’s assistant Ariel Aguinid, 22, who occupied the passenger seat, survived after jumping off from the pick-up type multi-cab (GMD 826). He was unhurt.

A previous conflict with a neighbor or a personal grudge is one of the motives being investigated by the team from the Homicide Section.

Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr., in a news conference, said one of the suspects has been identified.

Deresas and Aguinid were on their way to deliver ampao, piaya and other snack items to their clients when they were attacked at the corner of F. Llamas and Taurus Sts. in Barangay Punta Princesa at 6:45 a.m.

Deresas and Aguinid work for AP Sabado Marketing, owned by Nelson Sabado.

Deresas was about to turn left when the gunman appeared at the driver’s side and shot him.

Aguinid jumped off and ran away to his employer’s house in Buhisan.

The gunman boarded a motorcycle driven by another man, and they sped toward Barangay Mambaling.

On bail

The teams of SPO3 Rey Cuyos of the Homicide Section, Fortunato Macaranas of Punta Princesa Police Station and SPO4 Eugene Raganas of the Crime Scene Investigation Unit recovered two slugs from the road and three empty shells from a .45 pistol inside the vehicle, indicating that the shots were fired at close range.

The victim’s body was taken to St. Francis Funeral Homes for an autopsy.

Honeypher Deresas told the team of SPO3 Cuyos that her father was once detained for three days at the Cebu City Jail. He was out on bail.

She said her father was mistakenly charged with a criminal case for allegedly shooting a neighbor. She said he didn’t do it.

Arrested

Also yesterday, Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) operatives arrested without warrants four suspects, one of them a woman, in the shooting of Debbie Yu and Sonny Boy Mahilum.

The three said they were only supposed to threaten the victims, upon the woman’s order.

Yu, 55, suffered head injuries when she jumped off the running vehicle. Mahilum, who got hit, remained in critical condition yesterday.

Arrested were Marites Velasco of Barangay Basak, Mandaue City; Orbel Inihao, 22, of Barangay Babag in Lapu-Lapu City, who reportedly acted as the gunman’s driver; Rodelito Buenavista, who allegedly acted as the lookout; and Jayvee Palo-Palo, 20, who allegedly informed the gunman Yu was on her way.

Buneavista and Palo-Palo come from Barangay Babag in Lapu-Lapu City, but were temporarily staying with Velasco in Rajah Town Homes, Mandaue City.

Still at large and being pursued last night were Palo-Palo’s elder brother Ike, 23, who also allegedly acted as a lookout, and the gunman, known only as “Lapad.”

Gillamac said the two motorcycles they recovered, both Honda Wave-100 units, were the ones allegedly used by the gunman and other suspects. Velasco, who owns a lending company, reportedly owns the bikes.

Velasco refused to talk yesterday.

The three others, however, pointed to Velasco as the one who allegedly told them what to do.

The three said they did not know the motive.

“Wala mi kahibawo kinsa ato, ang drayber ba o kadtong sakay, ipahadlok raman kuno to (We did not know if we were supposed to go after the woman or the driver, but we were just told to frighten them),” Buenavista said.

The group waited for Yu’s vehicle to pass by Sitio Pilit, near the approach of the Cabancalan-Canduman bridge last Aug. 4.

Gunman fired at the passing vehicle, hitting Mahilum in different parts of the body. Yu was spared, but bumped her head when she jumped out of the vehicle some 200 meters from the crime scene.