CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija: A businessman noted for helping the needy was killed by two unidentified gunmen while stopped at a dimly lighted intersection shortly before midnight on Saturday.

Manuel Gabriel Lacsamana, an engineer-contractor, was driving his pick-up truck and yielded at an intersection along Mabini Extension to give way to passing vehicles along Maharlika Highway in this city, when the gunmen got off from a motorcycle, walked towards his vehicle and fired shots at close range.

Witnesses said the victim managed to drive and cross the highway until Mabini main street. His red Mitsubishi pick-up truck slowly stopped, hitting a parked car on the roadside where he died.

The autopsy report showed the victim was hit on the left side of his face with two .45 caliber bullets piercing his right jaw and right ear.

Lacsamana had been building several government housing projects and 18 gasoline stations in Central Luzon. He is also an associate member of a local media organization and was elected chairman of the Board of the Central Luzon Media Association-Nueva Ecija.

It was previously reported that Lacsamana and his older son, Manuel Junior had been receiving death threats but the victim just laughed these off. Richard Francisco, the victim’s friend and part time driver, said Lacsamana recently showed him a text message he received which said: “Play Jack and Poy with your son on who should go first.” Jack and poy is a children’s game to determine who should play first.

Francisco suspected the reason for Lacsamana’s murder could be the controversial issue of quarrying in Nueva Ecija. As a building contractor, Lacsamana maintained a sand and gravel quarry site near the Pampanga River bank in a Nueva Ecija town. He stockpiled the quarry materials for his projects.

The provincial government had issued Lacsamana a permit to operate the quarry while the Cabanatuan City government allowed him to haul the materials.

Quarrying had been ordered stopped in Nueva Ecija several months ago pending an ongoing investigation by the House of Representatives after Cabanatuan Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara and his wife Rep. Ria Vergara of the 3rd District, filed a complaint against former Nueva Ecija governor Aurelio Umali and his wife, incumbent Gov. Czarina Umali. The couples accused each other of manipulating the quarry industry in the province.

“Some people were jealous of my boss,” Francisco said, “because he had been allowed to operate his quarry and haul stockpiled materials while the others did not secure a permit and were prohibited fro hauling materials from the quarry.”

Lacsamana had just attended a meeting of quarry ELF-truck drivers and operators in Barangay Sta. Arcadia in this city and was driving to downtown Cabanatuan when he was killed.