'Mayor ignored death threats'
MANILA, Philippines - Police disclosed yesterday that a relative and friends of slain Mayor Erlinda Domingo of Maconacon, Isabela said that the victim had received threats before she was killed last Tuesday.
Quezon City Police District director Senior Superintendent Richard Albano said he had talked with a sibling, a friend of the victim, and a government official from Isabela who all claimed that Domingo had received threats.
Albano said the relative and friends of the victim, however, did not identify any one who could have ordered the killing of Domingo, 51.
Domingo was shot in the head in front of the Park Villa Apartelle at the corner of Examiner Street and Quezon Avenue in West Triangle.
“The mayor was supposedly informed something (bad) was going to happen to her. She just didn’t mind them, saying she wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Albano added.
QCPD deputy director for administration Senior Superintendent Joel Pagdilao said the slain mayor did not take the threats seriously and in fact was not carrying any firearm when she was killed and she was only accompanied by her driver.
“Also, if she had taken the threats seriously, she would have gone straight to the inn and not pick up her luggage herself,” Pagdilao told The STAR.
Isabela police director Senior Superintendent Franklin Moises Mabanag said Domingo had not talked to him about any threats to her life.
Police said one of the suspects shot Domingo while she was getting out of her maroon Mitsubishi Adventure with license plate SJA 893 in front of the apartelle.
Her driver-bodyguard, Bernard Plasos, ran after the killers but was shot and wounded in the right leg. He took refuge in the apartelle and was later treated at the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City.
Christian Flores Pajenado, one of the suspects, fled through Times street and tried to hide in a construction site, running smack into the police contingent that is regularly positioned around the family home of President Aquino.
He later led police investigators to the home of another suspect, Michael Domingo.
The two suspects brought police to the home of the alleged gunman, Marsibal Abduhadi, alias Bagwis, in a Muslim compound in Barangay Culiat, also in Quezon City.
Abduhadi was not around, but his wife Mary Grace Malonas was arrested for possession of a bag containing a .25 caliber Beretta pistol, a .45 caliber pistol with two magazines, a box of 9mm bullets, and a plastic sachet containing what police said were marijuana tops and drug paraphernalia.
Pajenado and Domingo pointed to another suspect, Ryan Santiago, who remains at large.
‘Target is Madam’
Pajenado claimed that he did not know who the mastermind is and he never knew that the target was going to be Domingo.
He told investigators that they were just told that the target is a woman who was referred to as “Madam.”
Pajenado said they had several meetings before the actual killing on Tuesday night.
Police investigators in Quezon City and Isabela said they believe the attack was linked to political rivalry.
The slain mayor defeated Walter Abdul Villanueva and Royle Gordon Talosig in the mayoralty polls in Maconacon in 2010.
Talosig is the son of former Maconacon mayor Francisco Talosig, who was shot dead on May 20, 2009 in Tuguegarao City.
Domingo was then Maconacon vice mayor and she assumed as mayor after the death of the elder Talosig.
Talosig’s killers have not been identified and business rivalry was one of the angles pursued by investigators, but his relatives suspected Domingo of involvement in the murder.
Investigators are now looking into possible links between the killing of Domingo and the earlier murder of the elder Talosig.
Albano said investigators would look into the possibility that the two killings are linked.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II had also instructed the police to look into the two separate killings.
In 2012, National Bureau of Investigation agents raided Talosig’s house in Cabagan, Isabela and seized a cache of high-powered guns.
The Talosigs have reportedly blamed Domingo for the raid, which led to the indictment of the late mayor’s widow Purisima for illegal gun possession.
Mabanag said there were reports that the Talosig clan had formed an alliance with Villanueva, who will run against Domingo in the race for mayor in May.
He said Domingo was in Manila with her vice mayor as well as the mayor and vice mayor of Benito Soliven town in Isabela.
A member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Domingo had attended a get-together at the party’s clubhouse in New Manila, Quezon City, which is owned by NPC founder Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.
Domingo was returning to the apartelle, where she and her bodyguard had checked in the night before, when the gunmen attacked at around 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, the remains of the slain mayor arrived yesterday in Maconacon and were brought to the Our Lady of the Pillars Parish church.
Judith Mora, Domingo’s sister-in-law, said the mayor’s son Celso Jr. is expected to arrive today from Taiwan. Elder daughter Liezle resides in Maconacon.
There was no information from the mayor’s relatives if her estranged husband Celso Sr., who is also abroad, will attend her burial. With Paolo Romero, Raymund Catindig, Charlie Lagasca