Six-man Batocabe hit squad now under custody – PNP

Published January 5, 2019, 1:28 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Martin Sadongdong

All members of the six-man hit squad reportedly hired by Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo to kill Ako Bicol Party-list representative Rodel Batocabe are now under police custody. The hit job also killed Batocabe’s police escort SPO2 Orlando Diaz.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said two other suspects — Danilo Muella alias Manoy Dan and Rolando Arimado alias “RR” — surrendered Saturday.

Philippine National Police Chief Director Oscar Albayalde (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)
Philippine National Police Chief Director Oscar Albayalde
(Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

Muella whom police said purchased the guns used in the assassination surrendered to elements of the Regional Intelligence Office of the Bicol Provincial Police Office (PRO-5) around 1 a.m Saturday.

Arimado, 50, an alleged rebel-returnee who reportedly served as a back-up gunman surrendered to the Masbate police at about 7 a.m. after three days of negotiation. Chief Insp. Malu Calubaquib, Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) spokesperson said Arimado was disarmed of his Uzi rifle by the escort of Vice Mayor Eric Castillo of Aroroy, Masbate in a hotel where he was billeted.

Calubaquib said Arimado confessed to the crime in an affidavit.

Muella, a former Technical Sergeant in the 97th Military Intelligence Company of the Philippine Army and trusted aide of Mayor Baldo allegedly purchased two home-made pistols used by the hitmen.

“This latest development is expected to complete the puzzle in uncovering the truth behind this double murder and multiple frustrated murder case,” Albayalde noted.

Muella and Arimado’s surrender came after the surrender of Henry Yuson, the self-confessed main gunman and Jaywin Babor, one of the drivers of the get-away motorcycles on Friday.

Chips falling

Albayalde first announced a major breakthrough in the Batocabe-Diaz twin slay Thursday after they located Emmanuel Judavar, a former military man and security aide of Mayor Baldo who was initially part of the assassination plot. Judavar allegedly backed out of the plan after Mayor Baldo refused to lend him money for his sick wife and child.

It was Judavar who identified members of the hit squad and the suspects began to surrender one by one.

The first to surrender was Christopher Naval alias Tuping, a discharged Army man once assigned with the Military Intelligence Battalion of the 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army stationed in Bicol and also a close security aide of Mayor Baldo. He surrendered on December 30, 2018.

Naval was said to have formed the team after allegedly receiving P250,000 from Mayor Baldo in September 2018. The assassination plot was hatched as early as August 2018, when Batocabe declared he was running for mayor of Daraga, Albayalde said.

Last Thursday, police arrested Emmanuel Rosello alias Boboy, who served as one of the drivers of the get-away motorcycles. Police seized from his possession a black SYM motorcycle believed to be used by the suspects in the escape. Albayalde said Rosello is a former member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), an auxiliary force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

On the same day, Henry Yuson alias “Romel” and “Eno”, the self-confessed main gunman, surrendered to the Philippine Army in Sorsogon. Yuson has a standing warrant for rape.

Yuson, an NPA rebel, later became a CAFGU.

On Friday, Jaywin Babor alias “Jie,” yielded to authorities in Taguig City.

Babor, a former Army man was assigned to drive the get-away motorcycles of the team, Albayalde said.

‘We were fooled’

According to Albayalde, all the suspects claimed they were not paid by Mayor Baldo as promised for the hit job on Batocabe.

“Pareho ang sinasabi nila: na hindi tumupad sa usapan doon sa pera (They are all saying the same thing: that the agreement regarding the payment was not fulfilled),” Albayalde said.

Mayor Baldo, however denied any involvement in the twin-slay claiming he is being used as a “convenient scapegoat” while the true perpetrators of the crime “remain free and blameless.”

The police have filed double murder charges and multiple frustrated murder charges against Mayor Baldo and the six other suspects before the prosecutor’s office.

Batocabe and Diaz were gunned down during a gift-giving activity in Poblacion, Daraga, Albay on December 22, 2018. (with a report from Niño N. Luces)