Police nab 2 suspects in killing of Isabela poll officer

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 15 2009 10:15 PM | Updated as of Nov 16 2009 06:16 AM

Police nab 2 suspects in killing of Isabela poll officer 1 

Isabela police display items allegedly recovered from room used by suspects as well as bullets recovered in killing of Isabela poll supervisor last November 14, 2009

Two of the suspects in the killing last Saturday of the election officer of Isabela province have been arrested by police Sunday.

Police said the suspects in the killing last Saturday of lawyer Michael Valdez, Isabela election supervisor, were identified by witnesses through the use of a police rogues’ gallery.

Valdez was shot inside his own Country Hotel State Inn, in Barangay 4 in Tumaini town in Isabela province, some 500 meters from the national highway.

The suspects were identified by police as Harry Taccad of Tumaini, Eric Alzate and Lito Magdangal alias Michael. Police said their records show that the three were members of a robbery gang operating in Isabela province.

The other suspects were identified as Gerry Calanday alias George of Roxas town in Isabela and the alleged gunman identified only as Jovani. The owner of the motorcycle allegedly used in the killing was also identified as Leonardo Madamba.

Police said they have already arrested Taccad and Calanday.

Planned operation

According to initial investigation by a task group formed by Isabela police to probe the killing, the shooting of Valdez was a planned operation.

The victim was reportedly attending his weekend garden chores at the hotel’s driveway when the suspects, who emerged from one of the hotel rooms, about 5 meters away from the garden section, went to him from behind and shot him.

According to witnesses, the suspects, police said, immediately fled in tandem on board a color red Honda Wave motorcycle after shooting their victim.

Senior Superintendent Jimmy Rivera Sr., Isabela police director, said Magdangal and Jovani checked in to the hotel using different rooms on dates November 9, 11 and 13.

Reportedly recovered from the room purportedly last used by the suspects were some toothbrush, towels, T-shirts and a helmet and some strands of hair. Police said the items will be used as evidence.

Police said they were now focusing their probe on the motive of the killing.

Work-related?

They said they were studying the killing was work-related including in relation to the previous assignments of Valdez.

Valdez was designated election supervisor in the province in 2004 after his assignment in Marawi City.

Valdez was the provincial election supervisor-designate during the 2004 hotly contested and controversy-ridden elections for the Cagayan governorship involving then third term-seeking governor Edgar Lara and then three-term Alcala town Mayor Alvaro Antonio.

Likewise, Valdez was already the election head of Isabela when incumbent Gov. Grace Padaca faced-off with former three-term governor Benjamin Dy in the 2007 elections.

Amid claims of election fraud, the Comelec went on to proclaim Padaca, leaving the Dy camp to wait for a resolution to his motion for the poll body to conduct revisions as well as recount of Dy’s protested and counter-protested ballot boxes.

Police also said that they are not discounting the possibility that the killing of Valdez was linked to the killing last January 2006 of his half-brother and lawyer Felimon Asperin Jr. who was election officer of Bauang town in La Union province.

Wife’s appeal

Relatives of Valdez however said they do not know of any reason for people to kill Valdez.

Even lawyer Ederlino Tabilas, Commission on Elections regional director, and other election officials in Isabela province said they were blank on the possible motive for the slay of Valdez.

Valdez’s remains have been brought by his relatives to Agoo town in La Union.

The wife of Valdez meanwhile appealed for other witnesses to come out to give justice to the death of her husband

Police meanwhile said they were still pursuing leads in determining the mastermind in the killing as well as the 4 other suspects who have already been identified. From a report of Brigette Mayor, ABS-CBN Cagayan Valley and The Philippine Star