MANAOAG, Pangasinan: Four alleged members of big-time criminal syndicates engaged in robbery, contract killing and car theft in Central and Northern Luzon were killed in a shootout with policemen who tried to arrest them at a checkpoint along the provincial road in Barangay Pao after they robbed a gasoline station in this town at dawn on Friday.
The police provincial director, Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver-Lee, identified the three suspects as Rodrigo Porquerino-Batucan, 49, resident of 1350 Gordon Avenue in Barangay Pag-asa, Olongapo City; Edwin Romero-Ignacio, 41, resident of BTPI Complex in Barangay Nagbalayong, Morong, Bataan; and Tommy Miranda, 41, resident of Barangay Cuyab in San Pedro, Laguna.
The fourth suspect was not yet identified because no identification card was found in his body.
The suspects sustained multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies and an attending physician declared them dead at the Manaoag Community Hospital.
Before the clash, the policemen composed of Task Force Limbas of the Highway Patrol Group led by Chief Inspector Reverente and Provincial Intelligence Branch in Tarlac led by Chief Inspector Milo Abriam coordinated with the Provincial Intelligence Branch led by Supt. Leoncio Senense regarding the alleged presence and operation of the suspects in Pangasinan.
After receiving such information, Lee issued a directive through text messages to all town and city police chiefs in Pangasinan to establish checkpoints in their jurisdiction for the possible apprehension of the armed crime suspects.
The four suspects on board a white Mitsubishi L-300 van with improvised plate (PIX 956) were also seen cruising along AB-Fernandez Avenue in Dagupan City at about 5 in the afternoon of October 13.
Policemen in Dagupan City led by Reverente and Abriam immediately conducted an operation to arrest the suspects but failed to locate them.
Chief Inspector Dave Mahilum, Manaoag town chief of police, immediately alerted his men who established a checkpoint along Barangay Pao starting at about 12: 30 in the morning of October 14.
Then, at about 1:45 in the morning, a gasoline boy at Centrum Gasoline Station in Barangay Babasit informed the Manaoag police station that four armed men wearing police uniforms and bonnets on board the same vehicle used by the suspects arrived and robbed the gasoline station of cash and other items.
Florante Pasama, Centrum employee, told policemen that one of the suspects alighted from the vehicle, grabbed him and ordered him to lie down after which the suspects asked Pasama where their collections is.
Told that it was inside the cashier cabinet, one of the suspects immediately opened the cabinet then took its contents of more than P3,000.
One of the suspects also took the printer of the calculator and papers of the gasoline station before everyone fled.
After receiving the information, policemen who were manning the checkpoints under Mahilum’s leadership, responded.
As they made their way to Babasit, they ran into the suspects’ vehicle but when policemen tried to stop them the driver drove faster.
The law enforcers chased them until they reached the checkpoint along Barangay Pao but instead of stopping, the suspects started firing their guns at the patrol car.
The policemen returned fire until the vehicle of the suspects stopped.
All four suspects were wounded.
Senior Inspector Demetrio Macaraeg, head of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) who conducted the investigation, recovered three caliber 45 pistols and a caliber 38 pistol from the suspects.
The SOCO also recovered police uniform, T-shirts, cellphones, bonnets, assorted personal belongings, cash amounting to more than P7,000, the calculator printer and blank Centrum paper receipts.
It found a small notebook inside Ignacio’s bag containing lists of their alleged targets to be killed and robbed in various provinces in Central and Northern Luzon and their daily operation expenses.
The Centrum gasoline boy arrived at the crime scene where he identified the suspects and the vehicle they used in the robbery before they were killed in the encounter with lawmen.
The branch manager of the Centrum Gasoline Station, Ronald Estacio of Aringay, La Union, told The Manila Times that all the four suspects killed were the same ones who robbed them as shown in the CCTV recording while the robbery was going on.
Lee who also arrived at the crime scene told The Manila Times that according to intelligence reports relayed from Camp Crame, the suspects were members of syndicate operating in Pangasinan, La Union, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and other provinces.
It was also learned that the four suspects were also wanted and each had a pending warrant of arrest in various courts in the provinces of Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija and were affiliated with a Metro Manila-based crime syndicate.
The bodies of the suspects are under the custody of Villanueva Funeraria in Poblacion, Manaoag.