FOR firing him from his job, a former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 watchman tried to kill his female boss.
But he ended up killing her husband instead.
The shots sustained by DPWH engineer Ciriaco Salazar were intended for his wife Dolores, said Rene Garcia, 30, of Sitio Kalubihan in Barangay Talamban, Cebu City who admitted the crime after he was arrested past 5 a.m. yesterday.
His accomplice, Norman Agbay, a habal-habal driver, surrendered later.
Garcia said he did not expect to shoot and kill Ciriaco, whom he also knew and described as a good man.
“Wa ko mag expect nga bana ang nag-drive. Buotan man to iyang bana,” Garcia said.
Dolores was reportedly the one who regularly used and drove the couple’s red Isuzu Crosswind (YJB 816).
Ciriaco was in Dalaguete, Cebu, most of the time, being assigned with the DPWH 4th Engineering District.
Garcia accused Dolores of kicking him out from the DPWH last June 30, leaving him and his family penniless.
Dolores, 49, is the chief of the maintenance section of the DPWH-1st Engineering District at Pier 3 in Cebu City. Garcia worked there as a casual employee and had served as a watchman for the past eight years.
Garcia and four other casuals were dismissed from the service based on a department order, citing the reported streamlining policy of President Benigno Aquino III.
He said his jobless wife and two children aged five and six depended on him.
Garcia said he had pleaded with Dolores to reinstate him, but the latter allegedly told him to address his request to President Aquino.
He asked for a reconsideration last Aug. 2, but was once again rejected.
“Gipiit niya akong pagpuyo,” Garcia said.
He said he decided to kill Dolores after his last visit.
He bought a .45 pistol and bullets, which he used in the attack. The firearm and 11 bullets were recovered by the police.
Garcia said he hired Agbay to drive for him. Agbay, Garcia said, allegedly agreed after he paid him P500.
Agbay, 31, said he surrendered to Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. because he started to fear for his life.
He said he was plying his usual route in Barangay Pit-os when Garcia asked him to drive him to Barangay Talamban past 7 p.m. in exchange for P400.
When they reached a gas station there, they waited until a red Isuzu Crosswind passed.
Agbay said Garcia asked him to tail the vehicle and to overtake it when they reached Sitio Tigbao. He was surprised when Garcia shot at the driver.
“Human ato, ninaog siya sa Bacayan unya gibaharan ko na, 'Ayaw ug saba kay mutingog gani ka, balikon gyud tika (After that, he got off in Bacayan. However, he told me to keep mum or he’d come back for me)’,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
Pe, chairman of the council committee on public order and safety, turned Agbay over to Pablo Labra, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) deputy chief for operations, following the arrest of Garcia.
Although Agbay is considered a suspect, police might use him as a witness later on, Labra said.
“He is considered a principal by direct participation but through his confession, we can later file a motion to drop the charges for him to be made a witness. His confession corroborates Garcia's statements that he was only hired to drive... But it's up to the court if it’ll drop Agbay from the case,” said Labra.
CCPO Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr. said they got the break on the case after Dolores, through her nephew, brought up the name of Garcia as the gunman last Friday.
Comendador said Dolores saw Garcia’s face during the attack. She was on the passenger seat.
At least three witnesses went to the city police force headquarters yesterday and pointed to Garcia as the gunman.
The attack took place at the bridge of Sitio Tigbao in Barangay Talamban as the couple was heading home to Villa del Rio I in the nearby Barangay Bacayan.
Ciriaco died before reaching the North General Hospital because of multiple gunshot wounds. Dolores was unhurt.
Dolores went to the Homicide Section yesterday afternoon to issue her statement. She, however, declined to be interviewed by reporters.
Since Friday, the special investigating task group led by Supt. Pablo Labra II and composed of the City Intelligence Branch, Investigation and Detective Management Branch and the Homicide Section worked double-time in the manhunt and finally arrested Garcia in his house.
Comendador said a complaint of murder will be filed against Garcia. Agbay will also be included in the complaint as an accomplice.
Police Regional Office 7 Director Lani-o Nerez, who went to the CCPO Headquarters, said the arrest of Garcia and other arrested suspects in Metro Cebu negated speculations that vigilantes, who shifted to gun-for-hire services, are behind the spate of attacks.
He said the most common motives in the series of fatal shootings are personal grudges and job-related conflicts. (JTG/LCR)