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RTC issues warrant for Bulacan mayoral bet

BULACAN, Philippines – Only 5 days before the midterm elections, a present vice-mayor and candidate for mayor of the town of San Rafael, Bulacan, is now in hiding after a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge here issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder of a Bulacan Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) operative in May last year.

RTC Judge Corazon Domingo-Ranola of Branch 10 issued the warrant Wednesday, May 8, against San Rafael vice-mayor Cipriano ‘Goto’ Violago, Jr. and four cohorts identified as Vergel dela Rosa Liquino, of Bgy. Pansumalok, San Rafael; Nicolas Mangaluz alias Boyet; Joel Mangaluz, both of Sitio 5 Bahay Pare, Candaba, Pampanga; and Tristan S. Cruz IV, of Brgy. Tanauan, Bustos.

Judge Ranola recommended no bail for the provisional liberty of all the accused pending their arrest.

The case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 1437-M-2013, was filed by the CIDG in connection with the death of SPO1 Rafael ‘Bart’ Bartolome, who was said to be closely-identified to vice-mayor Violago prior to his death.

According to an initial police report at the time of the killing, Bartolome was "set-up" and killed by assailants aboard a motorcycle riding-in-tandem after he responded to a friend's call inside Lapid’s Ville Subdivision in Barangay Tambubong, San Rafael town.

Bulacan police provincial director Joel S. Orduna sent an elite team, composed of Bulacan CIDG members led by Chief Insp. Rodolfo Santiago II, Provincial Public Safety Company members headed by Supt. Ross Alvarado and town police oficers under Supt. Boy Hernandez, to serve the arrest warrant on May 9 at the residence of Violago in Bgy. San Roque, San Rafael, but yielded no arrest.

“Kausap ko ang anak ni Goto. Si board member Mark Cholo Violago para tanungin at i-serve yung warrant. Pero wala daw yung father niya dun (I talked to the son of Goto, board member Mark Cholo Violago, to ask (about the father) and serve the warrant. But the father wasn't there),” Santiago said.

Violago is said to be in a tight race against incumbent San Rafael Mayor Lorna Silverio.

Violago has a younger brother, Salvador 'Bogs' Violago, who is also running for mayor in the City of Meycauayan against incumbent City Mayor Joan Alarilla. The younger Violago, however, has been given a slim chance of beating Alarilla, who is bidding for her third consecutive term.

One of Violago’s co-accused, Tristan Cruz, was also implicated and identified as the gunman in the killing of brothers Norberto, 59, and Renato Ignacio,49. Norberto was shot at point blank range last April 12, 2012 after coming out of a cockfighting arena in Baliuag town, while Renato, a retired soldier, was shot dead inside his house with his wife, Josefina, last October 20, 2013 in Barangay Coral na Bato, San Rafael.

Josefina, who survived gunshot wounds in the abdomen, positively identified Cruz. She is due for an operation this week at the Bulacan Medical Center to remove a slug still stuck in her abdomen. Her kidney and a portion of her liver were removed during initial surgery operations.

Beth Ignacio, a sister of Norberto and Renato, vowed to seek justice for her two slain brothers in spite of death threats she and her other sisters are getting. "Dapat po hulihin nila si Tristan Cruz, Arnel Miranda at Alvin Samonte dahil sila po ang pumatay sa mga kapatid ko at matigil na ang pananakot sa buhay naming magkakapatid (They have to capture Tristan Cruz, Arnel Miranda, and Alvin Samonte because they killed my brothers and (their arrest) will stop the threats on the lives of my sisters and I)," she wailed. - Rappler.com