Mayor’s son insists father was ambushed


    THE eldest son of slain Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino yesterday disputed the results of initial police investigation that said it was the mayor’s security escorts who initiated the firefight last Monday that left four others dead, including two cops.

    In a radio interview, Mark Aquino insisted that his father was ambushed, adding that a personal aide of the mayor survived the attack and can tell the entire story.

    “‘Yun ang mabuting balita kasi buhay ang personal aide ni papa at ‘yun ang magpapatunay kung ano talaga buong istorya. (That’s the good news, the personal aide of my father is alive and he can tell the entire story),” Mark said.

    He said his father’s body bore 21 gunshot wounds, including the fatal shots in the head and chest.

    PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana reiterated the statement of PNP chief Debold Sinas that the incident was not an ambush and the mayor’s camp fired the first shots.

    Sinas also said it was incidental the policemen were at the bridge at the same time with the mayor.

    Usana said the remarks of Sinas were based on the initial report from the Eastern Visayas Regional Police Office, adding subject to investigation by the Special Investigation Task Group Aquino.

    “This is simply an initial report from the police that came to the area and accordingly it was a shootout. In fact there were police officers who died,” he said.

    Aside from Aquino, also killed in the firefight were the mayor’s driver, Dennis Abayon, and his security detail, S/Sgt. Rodio Sario.

    The cops killed were identified as Capt. Joselito Tabada, chief of the PDEU-Samar and concurrent chief of Gandara town police station in Samar; and PDEU member S/Sgt. Cabococ Laoyon. Wounded were S/Sgt. Neil Matarum Cebu, also of PDEU, and an employee working for Aquino, Mansfield Labonete.

    Mark claimed his father’s van was rammed by one of the two tailing vehicles, a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck and a Ford Everest sports utility vehicle, that carried cops from the PNP Provincial Drug Enforcement Group and PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group.

    He said the policemen opened fire at his father’s van, killing the driver and his police security and wounding an aide. He said his father put up a fight but was later subdued.

    Mark said seven men from the two vehicles, armed with high-powered firearms, approached the van and shot his father again.

    He disputed police claims that his father’s escorts fired first at the cops, saying they were the first to be shot. He said his father fired back.

    Mark disclosed there were other cops near the bridge where the fighting took place. He said the policemen wore bonnets and vests as soon as his father’s van passed by.

    Mark also said the vehicles used by the policemen had different plate numbers on the front and rear side. He added that if it was a legitimate operation, the cops involved had no reason to flee when responding policemen arrived.

    He said he has received information that one of the vehicles used by the police frequented the bridge days before, raising the possibility they were casing the area.