Probers eye traffic row, robbery in bank exec’s slay

By Rey Galupo, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 25 2013 12:35 PM | Updated as of May 25 2013 08:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Police investigators are looking at traffic altercation and robbery as possible motives for the killing of a Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branch manager on Taft Avenue in Manila Thursday morning, an official said yesterday.

Rosemarie Gatan, branch manager of BPI’s Taft Avenue-Padre Faura branch, may have accidentally hit the two men on a motorcycle and ran away after exchanging heated words with them, said Chief Inspector Steve Casimiro, Manila Police District (MPD) homicide chief.

He said there were scratches on the left side of Gatan’s silver Mazda CX7 sport utility vehicle (SUV) (PBQ-172), separate from the damages the car incurred when it slammed into a concrete wall in front of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters.

“It is possible that the men gave chase and tried to scare the passenger by firing once. The car of Mrs. Gatan is tinted so there is no way that the men could have seen whether the driver was a man or a woman. If they were hired killers, they would have made sure that the person inside the vehicle was dead and a single shot was not enough to do the job,” he said.

Gatan, 51, a widow for seven years, had no known enemies, according to Casimiro and her relatives.

She died while undergoing treatment at the Medical Center Manila. She was shot under her left ear with a .38 caliber revolver, police investigators said.

Casimiro said they are also looking at robbery as a possible motive, “but this is not concrete considering that the gunman did not stop after firing the shot and did not take anything from the vehicle.”

Witnesses said Gatan was driving her SUV along Taft Avenue just before 9 a.m. when a gunman on a motorcycle shot her in front of the Manila Cosmopolitan Church.

Gatan managed to drive until her car slammed into a concrete wall in front of the NBI as her killer sped off toward the Liwasang Bonifacio area. The bank’s janitor, Joseph Ofracio, brought Gatan to the hospital.

Ofracio said the victim had just transferred to the Padre Faura branch shortly before Christmas last year and had not been involved in any trouble.

Another puzzle the police are trying to solve is why Gatan was driving north if she was indeed going to work. Gatan lived in Sampaloc and even if she took the San Marcelino route it is unlikely for her to end up in front of the Cosmopolitan Church, investigators said.