The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 1 bared on Friday the identities of the owners of the two cars used by the unidentified gunmen in the attempted killing of former Pangasinan governor and lawmaker Amado Espino Jr.
Lt. Col. Mary Crystal Peralta, spokesman of the Police Regional Office- Ilocos Region (PRO1), said the owner of the red Hyundai Elentra hatchback was a certain Marivic Villanueva, while the owner of the blue Ford Everest was a certain John Paul Regalado.
Recovered in the Ford Everest were two M14 rifles, three magazines of M16 rifles and one Baby Armalite, while in the Hyundai Elantra were two Baby Armalites and 34 live ammunitions.
The evidence is now under ballistic examination of the PNP’s Scene of the Crime Operatives, Peralta added.
The cars were reportedly from Metro Manila, and the PRO1 will coordinate with the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to verify if the cars were carnapped or not.
Peralta said the next step is to invite the two owners for questioning.
Meanwhile, police confirmed the death of Agapito Quizon, the driver of Espino Jr. who was rushed at the Holy Blessed Family Hospital in San Carlos City at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Quizon sustained several gunshot wounds, while Staff Sgt. Richard Esguerra died on the spot.
Espino, who sustained gunshot wounds in his left stomach and arms, and the two other Staff Sgts. Jayon Malsi and Kervin Marbori are now in stable condition.
Anthony Columbino escaped unharmed after the ambush, but he is now experiencing trauma, Peralta said.
Columbino went to Solano, Nueva Ecija after the ambush and police will be investigating why he did not go straight to police station.
“Wala pa po tayong motive na nakikita (We still have not found the motive),” Peralta said.
The seven to 10 suspects, PRO1 reported, headed to Malasiqui, Pangasinan.
On Thursday afternoon, Col. Redrico Maranan said based on the assessment, the gunmen were members of a gun-for-hire group.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año immediately ordered the creation of a special police team to investigate the ambush.
The police operatives, Año said, were already scouring several areas in Pangasinan to track and arrest the gunmen and police investigators are finding the motive behind the ambush.