By Liezle Basa-Inigo
SAN CARLOS CITY, Pangasinan —Ten unidentified armed men believed to be behind the ambush of former Pangasinan governor Amado Espino Jr. and his bodyguards at Barangay Magtaking, San Carlos City, Pangasinan Wednesday afternoon are now subject of a manhunt.
Around 169 empty shells of M16 Armalite rifles were found in the crime scene that killed a bodyguard and wounded four others including Espino who sustained a gunshot wound on his stomach.
The driver of a Toyota Innova said to be the security back up vehicle of the former governor escaped out of fear during the shooting which happened around 4:30 pm Wednesday.
Pangasinan police reported in a press conference Thursday that the victims were Amado T Espino Jr (former 5th Dist. Rep of this province), Agapito Cuison, PSSG Jason Malsi, Anthony Columbino (Ret. PNP member), PSSG Richard Esguerra and Kervin Marbori.
Probers said Espino was with two others — Cuison (driver) and Malsi (security)– onboard a Toyota Landcruiser SUV with plate number AAS 8236. His back-up security was on board a Toyota Innova driven by Columbino with companions PSSG Esguerra and Marbori. The convoy was traveling westward headed for Brgy, Ilang when the suspects armed with long firearms fired at them.
The attackers swiftly escaped on board separate vehicle, one red Hyundai hatchback and a metallic blue Ford Everest, which headed towards Malasiqui, Pangasinan.
The victims were rushed to the Blessed Family Doctors General Hospital for immediate medical attention, unfortunately, PSSG Esguerra who sustained several gunshot wounds on his body died on the spot. Cong. Espino is now out of danger and on stable condition.
All police stations are still on alert for the conduct of checkpoints; dragnet operations for possible apprehension or capture of the suspects.
Police authorities created SITG “Espino Jr” to conduct an in-depth investigation on the case and bring about its speedy resolution.
A report said perpetrators abandoned their get-away vehicles along with several high powered and high caliber long firearms which were later recovered by the follow-up teams and turned-over to the SOCO team.
Meanwhile, police said Espino has been receiving death threats and need to validate if politics was behind the ambush.