THE ambush on a businesswoman last Aug. 4 was a case of mistaken identity.
The target was not Debbie Yu nor her driver, Sonny Boy Mahilum, but Yu’s daughter Raquel, said Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) Director Noel Gillamac.
Mahilum, 28, died last Saturday, shortly after the arrest of the four suspects--Marites “Barbie” Velasco, the alleged brains in the ambush; John-Joy Palo-Palo, Rodelito Buenavista and Orbel Inihao.
Still at large are Ike Palo-Palo and a certain Lapad, the gunman.
The police are preparing murder and frustrated murder cases against the suspects.
Police are also preparing an illegal possession of firearms case against Velasco after they recovered a 9mm Black Widow from her.
They also recovered a .38 revolver from Palo-Palo.
Gillamac said all the three arrested suspects pointed to the 34-year-old Velasco, who runs a lending company, as the one who ordered them to shoot at Yu’s Toyota Fortuner.
Gillamac said they are still determining why the group wanted to ambush Yu’s daughter.
Police security was provided to the family.
Velasco, upon her lawyer’s advice, retracted her earlier statements and refrained from talking.
Inihao was the one who talked to investigators yesterday when his counsel, Rolando Tiempo, arrived at the Investigation and Detective Management Bureau (IDMB) office.
A brief commotion ensued inside the IDMB office when Inihao disowned Tiempo as his counsel, prompting the police to order Tiempo to back off.
Inihao told reporters Velasco hired him as the gunman’s driver.
He said he did not know Lapad as they only met him on the day of the ambush.
With three suspects voluntarily providing information, police are assessing who they can recommend as a state witness to pin Velasco down.
But even without the suspects’ testimony, Gillamac is confident they have a tight case against the group.
He said they have three witnesses, who saw the suspects at the crime scene moments before the ambush.
Gillamac said Palo-Palo expressed willingness to testify against Velasco for the clients they allegedly killed for failing to settle their loans.
Gillamac believes Velasco’s group specializes not only in collecting money by force but is also involved in gun-for-hire activity and robberies in Metro Cebu.
IDMB Chief Insp. Elmer Fernandez, who presented the items seized from the suspects, said they will seek the help of the National Telecommunications Commission to retrieve messages from the cell phones to gather more evidence against the group.