Crime Laboratory personnel check the crime scene where a civilian and law enforcers exchanged gunfire in an uptown area in Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City, resulting in the death of two persons on Thursday, Dec. 6. (Photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Police authorities here are preparing charges against the other suspects in Thursday's shootout that killed a police official and one of his assailants.
Supt. Mardy Hortillosa, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro Police Office (Cocpo), said murder and frustrated murder charges are being readied against two more unidentified suspects who were seen fleeing the scene prior to the shootout that killed SPO1 Sergs de Constantine Maceren.
Maceren and two other colleagues with the Regional Highway Patrol Unit -- SPO2 Lyndie Baltazar and PO1 Joel Laurente -- flagged down a white Hyundai Accent in Barangay Carmen over a suspicious license plate (ULI-448).
However, when Maceren and Baltazar approached the vehicle near a gasoline station, the driver, identified as Abdulrahim Batawi Adilao, fired at them using an M4 rifle equipped with a suppressor.
The ensuing shootout killed Maceren and Adilao, and wounded Baltazar.
A woman who was inside Adilao's vehicle during the shootout, identified as 30-year old Joan Gomez, was unscathed and surrendered to the police.
Hortillosa said the police are already searching for two persons who may be Adilao’s cohorts.
He noted that the 42-year-old Adilao was said to be a dealer of firearms. His motive for engaging the policemen in a shootout remains unknown. Gomez, on the other hand, has refused to answer questions about the incident, he added.
Police said Adilao's identification card indicated that he is a resident of Mabalacat town in Pampanga, although he and Gomez maintain a residence in Upper Carmen.
“We need to know from her (Gomez) what was their purpose,” Hortillosa said, referring to the possible motive of the suspects.
Hortillosa said the female suspect also denied any knowledge of the weapon that Adilao used to engage the highway patrol officers.
He said they will also investigate why Adilao was carrying a firearm inside his vehicle, considering that Mindanao is under the state of martial law, and that civilians are not allowed to possess a high-powered weapon, such as the one he used to shoot the policemen.
In an interview Friday, Insp. Tawide Galleon, Carmen police deputy chief, said Adilao owned a chain of gun shops, including one located in Marawi City.
In a statement, Chief Supt. Roberto Fajardo, the PNP’s Highway Patrol Group (HPG) director, said a deeper investigation is underway to verify Adilao’s background, and if he has any link with the two suspects recently arrested by Maceren and his colleagues.
A few days ago, Fajardo said two motorists tried to bribe Maceren in exchange for the release of their vehicles that were impounded for delinquent registration and unauthorized license plates.
Maceren refused the bribe allegedly offered by suspects Gary Ranalan and Franklin Jhon Ramos, both Cagayan de Oro residents, and instead filed criminal charges against the two for offering the bribe.