Daraga mayor behind Batocabe slay: PNP

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday has tagged Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo as the mastermind behind the assassination of Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his security escort, SPO2 Orlando Diaz last December 22.

In a press conference, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde made the remark following the surfacing of seven persons of interest in the crime, who are employed as confidential staff of the Office of the Municipal Mayor of Daraga.

Albayalde said among the seven, Christopher Cabrera Naval alias Tuping, who was identified as a trusted security aide of Baldo, was forced to surrender to the PNP-Intelligence Group (IG) last Dec. 30, due to the relentless police operations jointly conducted by combined elements of Police Regional Office-5 Special Investigation Task Group Batocabe, CIDG, and PNP-IG.

Tuping provided investigators with relevant information surrounding the assassination of Batocabe.

Accordingly, the plan to assassinate Batocabe was hatched sometime in August 2018 when Batocabe made public his bid to run for mayor of Daraga.

This was corroborated by Emmanuel Bonita Judavar, who was involved in the initial planning but allegedly backed out during the actual assassination.

Judavar earlier came forward and gave his knowledge to the police about the killing of Batocabe.

According to Tuping, Baldo allegedly offered PHP5-million for the hit job on Batocabe sometime in September 2018 and paid an initial amount of PHP250,000 to Tuping and his group for the purchase of guns and motorcycles.

Tuping’s team is composed mostly of former military, paramilitary personnel and NPA rebels who are presently employed under fictitious names as confidential staff of the Office of the Mayor and are each receiving a monthly compensation of PHP7,000.

Tuping himself was a discharged Army serviceman, who once served with the Military Intelligence Battalion of the 9th Infantry Division stationed in Bicol Region.

Based on Tuping’s revelation, he purchased two SYM motorcycles in Camalig, Albay using the assumed name Abelardo Castillo, while another member of the team, Danilo Muella alias Manoy Dan, acquired two home-made .45-caliber pistols.

Muella is reportedly a former sergeant in the 97th Military Intelligence Company of the 9th Infantry Division.

According to Tuping and Judavar, the first attempt on Batocabe was during the congressman’s routine engagements at radio station dzJB and Hotel Venezia in Legazpi City, a pattern that was observed by the group in its casing and surveillance on Batocabe.

Based on the extra-judicial confession of Tuping, revelations made by Judavar, and intelligence research conducted by the IG and CIDG, the other members of Tuping’s team and their individual participation in the murder are as follows:

1) Henry Yuson alias Romel/Eno, a former NPA rebel arrested by MICO, MIB of 9th IB and who later became a CAFGU member. He was tagged as the main gunman who shot Batocabe allegedly with a .40-caliber pistol.

2) Rolando Arimado alias RR, a rebel returnee who served as lookout and back-up gunman. It was reported that he likewise pulled the trigger to kill Rep. Batocabe and SPO1 Diaz on the day of the assassination.

3) Emmanuel Rosello alias Boboy, a former CAFGU member who drove the other getaway motorcycle. He was arrested earlier this morning by police operatives in Daraga, Albay. The getaway motorcycle was likewise seized from his possession.

4) Jaywin Babor alias Jie, also an ex-Army man who was designated as driver of the getaway motorcycle.

From all indications as revealed by the suspects and witnesses, and physical evidence gathered by the police, the group that killed Batocabe and Diaz is a private armed group employed by the mayor that is involved in contract killing as a gun-for-hire syndicate.

Cases of double murder and multiple frustrated homicide were filed in Albay against Baldo and six others.

“Immediately effective today, I have ordered the revocation of firearms licenses and PTCFOR of Mayor Baldo and has recommended the removal of his deputation over the local police of Daraga, Albay. This is a victory of the rule of law in this country. This is also a stern warning against those unscrupulous politicians who will resort to violence to gain elected position. The long arms of the law will eventually catch on you,” Albayalde said. (PNA/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)