TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- Five drug couriers believed to be also involved in a robbery-holdup were killed during a shootout with policemen near the checkpoint in Barangay Malalao, Tabuk City, Kalinga Thursday morning, April 28.
During the initial investigation, Col. Peter Tagtag, Jr., provincial director of the Kalinga Provincial Police Office, said the police received information that five armed men from Region 3 were reportedly carrying marijuana out of Tabuk City, Kalinga.
Police immediately set up checkpoints at the exit points of the city around 9:45 a.m. until they spotted the arriving marked car, a gray/black sedan with plate number NUS 11. The police flagged down the car, but instead of stopping, a passenger from the car fired one at the police personnel manning the checkpoint, hitting the patrol car blocking the checkpoint.
The police chased the vehicle which resulted in a brief exchange of gunfire and in the death of the five suspects.
Thereafter, operatives of the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) conducted crime scene processing at around 1:50 p.m.
The police recovered from the suspects' vehicle 23 pieces of dried marijuana bricks weighing 23,000 grams and with an estimated value of P2,760,000.
Also recovered in the shootout scene were four caliber .45 pistols, 10 pieces of fired cartridges 9mm caliber; 10 pieces of fired cartridge case, two pieces of fired cartridge case of cal. 5.56; a slug; 4 pieces of live ammunition of cal .45 and one live ammunition.
Police said two of the five suspects were found to have identification cards, although the investigators added the names indicated in the IDs may not be those of the suspects’.
One suspect had a professional driver's license and Anti Organized Crime and Corruption Intelligence Group ID named Ian Salutin Zulueta and an identification card with a picture from Barangay Tangle of Mexico, Pampanga.
The other suspect yielded an Anti-Organized Crime and Corruption Intelligence Group identification card with the name Jose S. Libreja in it.
As of posting time, the police were still trying to determine the background of the five suspects and their real names.
"We are still in contact with the police in Region 3 to ascertain the identity of the suspects and find out their cases," Tagtag said.