URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan: Five alleged car thieves belonging to a syndicate based in Metro Manila and Baguio City were killed in a shootout with policemen after they ignored a checkpoint along the national road in Barangay Nancayasan in this city early on Sunday.
Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver-Lee, police provincial director, identified four of the suspects as Jomay delos Santos of Barangay Misalipit, San Miguel, Bulacan; Ronnie Chico of Arcenas, San Miguel, Bulacan; Arnold Pilo-Badera of Purok 2, Basa Trento, Agusan del Sur; and Gilbert Bacuna-Fiomico of 4929 Durian Street, Santa Mesa, Manila.
The fifth suspect remained unidentified.
Lee said the five suspects were responsible for several unsolved car thefts, robberies and hijacks in Region 4A (Calabarzon), National Capital Region (Metro Manla), Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region I (Ilocos Region) and Cordillera Administrative Region.
Lee told The Manila Times that before the shootout in Urdaneta City, the suspects were spotted along MacArhur Highway in Baguio City in a silver Toyota Innova (NRQ 496) near their alleged hideout.
The vehicle sped off toward Pangasinan at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Police then coordinated with various police stations in La Union and Pangasinan to put up a checkpoint along the national road going to Manila for possible apprehension of the suspects.
Policemen in Urdaneta City led by Supt. Marceliano Desamito Jr., the city chief of police, together with Task Force Limbas of Highway Patrol Group provincial intelligence branch and other security units, flagged down at the checkpoint the suspects’ Innova at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Instead of stopping, however, the suspects sped away.
The policemen tailed the vehicle until they cornered the suspects in a ricefield in Barangay Nancalobasaan in Urdaneta City.
They asked the suspects to surrender peacefully but the latter started shooting at the policemen.
The shootout left the five suspects dead.
Police recovered from the crime scene two plastic sachets of illegal drugs, four .45 caliber pistols, several empty shells, two pieces of police uniforms and shoes, masking tape, nylon cord and personal belongings.
Provincial police offices in Bulacan, Tarlac, Pampanga and Pangasinan claimed the five suspects had also stolen cars in Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac.
Police records showed the suspects were allegedly the same persons who hired the Toyota Grandia being driven by Joselito Umali-Santiago, a resident of Sitio Wawa, in Barangay San Sebastian, Hagonoy, Bulacan on December 9, 2015.
Santiago failed to return home for ten days until his body was recovered in Binalonan town by police along the national road on December 11 last year. He was hogtied and bore gunshot wounds.
The family of Santiago said the suspects hired him to go to Baguio City based on statements of his partner Michelle Castro.
The same suspects were also allegedly behind another car theft in Tarlac province wherein the victim was identified as Joel Canono-Orbillo, a resident of Sitio Balsa San Isidro, Tarlac City.
Orbillo said while he was driving a Toyota Grandia (XY 6876) along the national highway in Paniqui town, Tarlac, at about 11 p.m. on April 11, 2016, when three suspects, one of them a woman, boarded his vehicle and asked him to bring them to Baguio City.
A few minutes later along the national road going to Pangasinan, one of the suspects pointed a pistol at the driver and asked him to stop.
Orbillo was hogtied and blindfolded and abandoned along the national highway at Barangay Asan Sur.
He was spotted by residents in the area and brought him to the police station.
Police in Pampanga also claimed the suspects were responsible for stealing a car owned by Joel Lulu Sr. of Santa Rita, Macabebe, Pampanga.
It was learned that Lulu was also hired by the same suspects to go to Baguio City on the evening of May 9, 2016.
Lulu’s body was recovered along the provincial road in Barangay Babasit in Manaoag town, Pangasinan. He was also hogtied and bore gunshot wounds.
Lee said some alleged victims of the syndicate from Metro Manila, Bulacan, Bataan and Laguna will report to the Pangasinan police because they may have been victims of the same group.