BATANGAS CITY, Philippines – Police arrested Tuesday afternoon, August 23, an alleged leader of a gun-for-hire group who is the prime suspect in the murder of a businessman in Ibaan town, Batangas province.
Ibaan Police Chief Major Emil Mendoza said the suspects tried to evade law enforcers serving a warrant of arrest and then engaged cops in a firefight in Rosario town.
They identified the suspect as Eleazar Rocio, a resident of Barangay Pangao, Ibaan, Batangas and alleged leader of the group.
Also arrested was Rocio’s bodyguard identified as Leandro Guerra, a resident of Barangay Lapu-Lapu, Ibaan, Batangas.
Mendoza said Rocio was tagged as the alleged mastermind in the assassination of 49-year old businessman Peterson Co last March 23, 2022 in Barangay Coliat in Ibaan town.
He said the actual gunman, who was arrested earlier, named the alleged mastermind.
Ibaan cops and members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) were about to serve a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Rosemarie Manalang Austria, of Rosario RTC -Branch 87 against Rocio, when the suspects sensed the presence of authorities and fled onboard an SUV around 4 pm.
A car chase ensued until the suspects were flagged down at Barangay San Roque in Rosario town in Batangas.
However, the suspects managed to jump out of their vehicle and ran towards a sugarcane plantation, where they exchanged fire with lawmen.
Police said Rocio suffered a bullet wound in his abdomen and was rushed to NL Villa Hospital in Lipa City for treatment, while Guerra was brought to Batangas Police Provincial Office.
Recovered from the suspects were a 9MM pistol and a caliber 45 pistol.
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, August 24, Batangas Police Provincial Director Colonel Pedro Soliba said the gun-for-hire group has been operating in the province for almost 5 years.
“Our initial engagement with the group was in November 2020 when we conducted a search warrant operation and recovered several unregistered firearms,” Soliba said.
Rocio’s brother, Florante, was arrested during the 2020 operation although the case was dismissed.
Soliba also said a July 16 operation in San Juan town led to the confiscation of multiple firearms and grenades was conducted against another member of the same gun-for-hire group. – Rappler.com