Published: 11:46 a.m., July 11, 2018 | Updated: 11:02 p.m., July 11, 2018
NAGA CITY — Two suspects in the July 3 murder of General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote were arrested by the police in Del Gallego town, Camarines Sur province, on Wednesday morning.
Police said Florencio Suarez, 48, and Robert Gumacay, 35, were nabbed after police flagged down their beige Toyota Avanza at a checkpoint on Andaya Highway at Barangay Cabasag at 9:30 a.m.
Recovered from the suspect was a caliber .45 pistol, which was seen in plain view during checkpoint, according to police.
Del Gallego town is near the boundary of Camarines Sur and Quezon.
Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson for the Bicol Police Regional Office (Bicol PRO), said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Central Luzon, had alerted the Del Gallego police about the suspects whose vehicle could possibly pass by the town.
This prompted the police, the CIDG and the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to immediately set up a checkpoint.
“Ito po yung pinaghihinalaang pumatay kay Mayor Bote pero yung report ho hindi pa kumpleto kasi ongoing pa yung operation…sa spot report lang po ng aming police station,” Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal, director of the Bicol PRO, said in an interview over AM radio station DZMM.
Escobal said the suspect is now currently under the custody of the Del Gallego police station.
Bote was killed in an ambush in Cabanatuan City last July 3.
In Camp Crame, Director General Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police chief, said one of the arrested suspects could be the gunman, and the police were looking for “four to five more men” in the killing.
These other suspects were involved in “giving [the gunman] refuge, the other the one who possibly hired them, so our persons of interest here are probably six to seven [people],” Albayalde told reporters.
He said the police had “physical evidence” in the form of security camera footage as well as witness testimonies linking Suarez and Gumacay to the murder.
According to the witness, the gunman approached Bote’s vehicle, then escaped with another suspect on a motorcycle. The two then transferred to a vehicle in a nearby barangay in Cabanatuan City.
Albayalde said it was this vehicle that also gave a lead in the case. He did not elaborate.
“Most likely, the suspects belong to a gun-for-hire group. That’s why when we were monitoring them, they ran to the place where they were arrested,” he said.
The motive of the killing had yet to be established, he said, adding that the police already had “good leads,” including that on the mastermind.
Initial reports from the HPG said the Avanza was registered to one Carolina Bartolome of the City of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan province.
HPG records showed the car owner requested for a hold-order status on the vehicle in 2012 for unknown reason.
Recovered from the vehicle were several firearms, explosives and bags containing money, police said.
The suspects were detained at the Del Gallego town jail and would be taken to Camp Crame.
In General Tinio, Bote’s family had not issued a statement on the arrest of the
But Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis of Peñaranda town, Nueva Ecija, the chapter president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said he believed the vehicle driven by the suspects when they were arrested in Camarines Sur was the same one used by a backup team during the attack on Bote in Cabanatuan City.
Abesamis said the chapter was also offering a P1-million reward for information that would help arrest Bote’s killers. The Nueva Ecija government earlier offered a P1-million reward.
–Reports from Stephanie M. Florida and Mar S. Arguelles – Inquirer Southern Luzon; Armand Galang – Inquirer Central Luzon; Maila Ager and Frances Mangosing – INQUIRER.net; Jaymee T. Gamil – Philippine Daily Inquirer
/kga /pdi /atm
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