The alleged mastermind behind the killing of General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote has been identified as is now the subject of a manhunt, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said Monday.
“Operatives of the Special Investigation Task Group [SITG] Bote are now hot on the trail of three... identified suspects. One of them is believed to be the mastermind, Christian M. Saquilabon,” Albayalde said.
Saquilabon was identified as a private contractor based in Nueva Ecija.
Another suspect, a certain Jun Jun Fajardo, was a spotter during the assassination, Albayalde said.
Bote was coming out of the National Irrigation Administration compound on board a Fortuner when he was shot several times by armed men in Cabanatuan City on July 3.
Meanwhile, Central Luzon police director Chief Supt. Amador Corpuz said a conflict over a tourism project in the town seems to have triggered the killing.
Earlier, police arrested two gunmen, Florencio Suarez and Robert Gumacay, at a checkpoint in Del Gallego Highway in Camarines Sur last week.
A week after the arrest of Suarez and Gumacay, Arnold Gamboa, the driver of the getaway vehicle, surrendered to the authorities.
Corpuz said Saquilabon reportedly paid the killers P25,000 for Bote’s assassination.
“With the new evidence, SITG Bote has established the most probable motive behind the murder and the participation of each of the identified players in the conspiracy, the next step in the criminal
justice process will be the formal indictment and presentation of the airtight case in court for successful prosecution,” Albayalde said.
Suarez and Gumacay, Albayalde said, have been charged.
In the murder of Vice Mayor Lubigan of Trece Martirez City, forensic examiners are working to gather more evidence from the recovered getaway vehicle.
“We are confident that with similar classic best practices in criminal investigation, we will be able to crack the murder cases of Mayor Antonio Halili of Batangas and Vice Mayor Ali of Tawi-Tawi,” said Albayalde.