South Cotabato

Polomolok killing spree: Police probe corruption, conflicts as motive

Rommel Rebollido
Polomolok killing spree: Police probe corruption, conflicts as motive
Four members of Polomolok’s Civil Security Unit (CSU) are killed one by one, and police say they are checking a web of allegations of irregularities in the town’s security group

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Police are investigating potential motives including allegations about involvement in illegal activities, internal conflicts, and grudges among colleagues as they probe the recent spate of killings of town security personnel in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

Four members of Polomolok’s Civil Security Unit (CSU) have been killed since November 2020, and police said investigators were checking a web of allegations about the illegal drug trade, corruption, and rivalry in the security group of one of Mindanao’s most densely populated towns.

Polomolok Mayor Bernie Palencia has offered a bounty of half a million pesos for the capture of the killers, and the town council passed a resolution to condemn the killings and pressure the police to crack the murder cases as soon as possible. 

Polomolok police chief Lieutenant Colonel Marvin Duadua said on Saturday, January 14, that the initial investigation pointed to grudges being harbored by the victims’ co-workers as a motive. 

Duadua revealed that one of the victims was linked to extortion at the public market and terminal vendors, while another was implicated in illegal drug activities.

The latter, according to Duadua, had even been issued a search warrant because of his alleged ties to the local illegal drug trade.

Duadua said investigators were also looking into the possibility that one of the victims was murdered by criminals who begrudged him for his work as an intelligence operative before he retired from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

He said another victim, also a former policeman, had received death threats before he was killed in a gun attack.

The most recent victim, Donald Cabigas, was a retired police major who headed the intelligence group of the CSU in Polomolok. 

Cabigas was killed in a gun attack staged by at least two men who barged into his shop last week. He died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Earlier this month, two other Polomolok CSU members were killed in a gun attack carried out while they were driving their motorcycles along a highway. 

The first of the four victims was shot and killed, vigilante-style, inside a cemetery in Polomolok on November 18, 2022.

Police said the victims were murdered by killers who fled on motorcycles, and who used a .45 pistol and a 9mm handgun as murder weapons based on the shells found at the crime scenes.

Palencia said the series of killings in his town posed a huge challenge to the town government which had promised its constituents peace and order. 

Palencia and Vice Mayor Melchor Jutar said they would do whatever it takes to bring the perpetrators to justice. – Rappler.com

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