Suspect in killing of Batangas journalist slain by police

By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog

Posted at Oct 19 2009 06:34 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2009 02:34 AM

BATANGAS CITY – One of the alleged killers of Batangas journalist Arnnel Manalo last 2004 was slain by police after allegedly grabbing a gun from his escort while on their way to the provincial jail Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Superintendent Cosme Abrenica, Bauan town police chief, identified the slain suspect as Michael Garcia, a resident of San Isidro in Nueva Ecija province.

Garcia reportedly died on the spot after sustaining a single gunshot wound on his head.

Abrenica said Garcia, together with his police escorts Police Officer 2 Jose Agena, PO2 Efren Camo and Senior Police Officer 2 Afredo Acuzar, were on their way to the Batangas Provincial Jail 3:35 p.m. after the suspect’s was committed to the Batangas Hall of Justice when the shooting occurred.

“It’s very unfortunate that this incident happened. Buti na lang at alerto ang mga tauhan ko, kung hindi baka may napatay din sa mga tao ko,” Abrenica said.

Abrenica said his men will undergo investigation to shed light or dispel any doubts of foul play on the incident.

Prior to the shooting, Garcia was reportedly arrested in Kataingan in Masbate island last Wednesday by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Teodoro Tapia Riel of Regional Trial Court Branch 7 in Batangas City .

Garcia was subsequently turned over to Abrenica for court commitment in Batangas City. No bail was recommended for Garcia’s murder case.

2 motorcycle-riding men last Aug. 5, 2004 fatally shot Manalo, who was a local correspondent of radio station dzRH and national tabloid Bulgar and a columnist of Dyario Veritas, a local weekly newspaper.

Manalo, who was also a barangay councilman, was ambushed at about 7:15 a.m. after he had dropped off his two children at school. He sustained bullet wounds in the neck and face purportedly from a caliber .45.

Apollo, a younger brother of Manalo, the lone eyewitness to the killing, reportedly had positively identified Garcia from pictures shown to him by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Apollo was with his brother aboard a jeep when the latter was shot dead in Barangay Manghinao Proper in Bauan town

Police said Manalo could have gotten the ire of some influential people in Bauan through his columns in Dyario Veritas that led to his assassination.

Police meanwhile said that Garcia was also facing cases of frustrated homicide and robbery in the Cabanatuan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Nueva Ecija. By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog