MANILA, Philippines - An eye for an eye.
Arnel Buenaflor, whose face was captured in a photo taken by his own victim, said he killed Caloocan City Barangay 35 councilor or kagawad Reynaldo Dagsa for revenge.
"Ganti. Binaril niya ako sa ulo eh. Ayos lang, may kasalanan siya sa akin eh," Buenaflor told ABS-CBN News.
The one-of-a-kind photograph and the story have been picked up by many newspapers and news websites around the world.
Arnel’s aunt, Lulu Buenaflor, earlier told ABS-CBN News that months before his nephew shot Dagsa dead in front of his home in Caloocan City on New Year's Eve, the suspect and the barangay councilor figured in a shootout.
She said her nephew decided to surrender to Dagsa when his [Buenaflor] gun jammed during the shootout. She said that instead of arresting Buenaflor, Dagsa’s men mauled the suspect and shot him in the head.
The suspect survived, and when he recovered from his wound, he planned Dagsa's killing, she added.
Suspect brought to Caloocan
Buenaflor was arrested on Thursday night (January 6) from his hiding place in Barangay Kalabasa, Aurora town in Isabela.
The suspect arrived at the Caloocan City Police Station at around 4 a.m. Saturday.
Before he was transported to Caloocan City, police officials presented the suspect to the media. During the presentation, Buenaflor wore the same cap that he wore when he shot Dagsa dead.
He was also ordered by the police to pose for TV cameras and photographers and act as if he was aiming a gun at someone.
Buenaflor was positively identified as Dagsa's killer through a photograph taken by the barangay councilor seconds before he was killed.
In the photograph, Buenaflor was seen aiming a gun at Dagsa. A lookout, identified as Rommel Oliva, was also captured in the photograph.
Oliva and another lookout, Michael Rollon, have also been arrested.
Police said Buenaflor's group is allegedly involved in a string of robbery cases.
Authorities said that they are also investigating the possibility of Buenaflor's involvement in other cases of murder in the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) area.
Senior Superintendent Jude Santos, Caloocan City police chief, said one of the methods they used in the arrest of Buenaflor was the use of information technology.
Santos said that during the course of the investigation, they got hold of several mobile phone numbers and used each number to trace Buenaflor's whereabouts.
He said the mobile phone numbers were taken from people who personally knew Buenaflor, and one of the numbers turned out positive.
Before police confirmed that Buenaflor was in Isabela, Santos said they deployed tracker teams in possible hiding places of the suspect in Bulacan province and Bicol region.
"Itong pinaka-hot na information ay from Isabela," he said. He said that through the help of a bus company, they were able to pinpoint the bus unit and seat number of Buenaflor and where he was going.
He said they immediately tapped local government units and the local police in the province after receiving the information.
He said at least 3 town mayors and several barangay officials coordinated with the police province-wide manhunt operation against Buenaflor.
Police got a break when they were able to identify a female friend of Buenaflor's live-in partner, Loraine Castro.
Santos said Castro's friend is a guest relations officer working in a beerhouse in Aurora town.
Police did not confront the female friend and went directly to the manager of the beerhouse.
"Na-pressure ang manager na ituro kung nasaan ang kasamang lalaki ni Loraine," Santos said.
He said Buenaflor, who looked tired during the arrest, was the one who opened the door when police knocked on the door of his hiding place in Barangay Kalabasa.
He said the suspect peacefully surrendered to the police. -- Reports from Harris Julio, ABS-CBN Cagayan; Jerome Lanting and Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News