Ecija village chief slain in ambush

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CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija: Unidentified bonnet-wearing assailants killed a barangay (village) chairman and his companion in a daring broad daylight ambush along a busy highway here on Friday afternoon.

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Jerick Ventosa, 42, chairman of Barangay Villa Ofelia, and his brother-in-law Neil Espiritu, 34, were travelling along Maharlika Highway when the gunmen on board an MPV sprayed them with M-16 Armalite rifle bullets triggering a running gun battle within this city’s commercial area.

The gunmen’s vehicle slithered through the traffic-busy highway reportedly backed up by two others in separate motorcycles.

The suspects in a white Toyota Innova without a license plate blocked the victim’s car, a black Toyota Vios, along Gabaldon Street corner Maharlika Highway and peppered it with 30 bullets.

Witnesses said Ventosa, already wounded, managed to get off the car to ask for help but one of the gunmen went after him, pulled out his bonnet and pumped more bullets.

Supt. Ponciano Zapra, city chief of police, said Ventosa sustained nine bullet wounds in the body while Espiritu had three.

He said at least six suspects were hired to kill the victim. Four of them, wearing a black bonnet, were on board the Innova while two others on separate motorcycles served as look out at the corner of Sanciangco Street along Maharlika highway.

The victim reportedly came from a mall to buy a cellphone for his kid.

Police said the gunmen’s target only was Ventosa.

Ventosa was the second village chairman killed in this city in two days. Last Wednesday, Reynaldo de los Santos, chairman of Barangay Pula was killed by two unidentified gunmen in front of the barangay hall.

Delos Santos’ case was believed to be part of the drug war because he was in the police watch list as high-value target for shabu pushing. He was also involved in a land dispute with his constituents.

Ventosa was appointed chairman last June after the elected village chief Felix Santos, was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman for two cases of misconduct.

Zapra told The Manila Times they are also looking into the angle on politics in the killings of Ventosa and Delos Santos. He said they are collecting pieces of evidence including those from a CCTV installed along the Maharlika highway.

Relatives of the victims said at least four village councilmen and Ventosa had been receiving text messages threatening them that they will not stay long in their position.

The family recovered Ventosa’s cellphone from which they saw a saved text message saying: “You will not last long. We’ll spend all our money.”

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