Calbayog mayor shot at least 21 times, vehicle used by gunmen had diff plates: son

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2021 11:54 AM | Updated as of Mar 11 2021 12:00 PM

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Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino was shot at least 21 times, his eldest son Mark Aquino said Thursday, with witnesses saying 7 gunmen shot repeatedly at the mayor's van to make sure he was dead. 

Speaking to ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, the younger Aquino confirmed his father was on his way to his birthday when he was waylaid by law enforcers wielding high-powered firearms in Barangay Lonoy last Monday. 

A Philippine National Police report earlier said the assailants were elements of the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group, and Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit. 

"Sabi po ng kaibigan ng papa ko, hindi ko po kasi kinayang makita ang resulta ng autopsy, ang sabi niya po sa bilang niya po, kalahati pa lang po ng katawan ng papa ko nabibilang na tama ng bala is 21 na po," the younger Aquino told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. 

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A witness, he said, revealed that his father's van was rammed from behind. Seven assailants from 2 vehicles - a Hilux and an Everest - then disembarked and strafed the van. 

"Tatlong wave ang pagbaril nila sa papa ko. Una po, 4 na tao ang bumaril. And then nung naubos ang bala, nag change mag sila. Tapos 'yung 3 naman ang bumaril," he said. 

Aquino said locals had spotted one of the vehicles used by the gunmen going back and forth in the area several times at least a week before the shooting. "Siguro inaaral nila o kine-casing nila 'yung lugar na iyon kung saan halos araw-araw dumaraan si mayor," he said. 

He said that on the day of the shooting, one of the vehicles was staying on one end of the bridge while another group was waiting on the other end. 

"Nung malapit na pong dumaan si mayor, biglang nagsuot ng bonnet," he said.

Aquino said it was impossible for his father's security detail to have shot at the law enforcers since they were the first to be shot while inside the vehicle. 

He said it was his father who shot at the assailants, according to his personal aide who was also inside the van and survived the incident. 

"Si papa ang nakaganti. Ang personal aide niya tinamaan sa ulo. Buhay po. 'Yun ang magpapatunay ng buong storya," he said. 

Aquino rejected claims that law enforcers did not know that it was the mayor inside the van, pointing out that the vehicle was issued by the city. He added that his father used the same route almost every day.

He said that after the shooting, one of the assailants then looked inside the van and said: "Okay na, patay na." 

"Ibig sabihin kilala nila si mayor...Tama na, OK na, patay na. Ibig sabihin intensyonal ang pagpatay nila kay mayor," he said. 

He also noted that one of the vehicles used by the assailants had different license plates in the front and back.

"Iyon ang pinagtataka ko po. Kung totoong legitimate operation 'yun, ano ang ginagawa ng mga pulis doon bago dumating si mayor at bakit po sila nagtago nung dumating ang mga rumespondeng pulis?" he said. 

Police have formed a special investigation task group to probe the incident that left 6 people dead, including Aquino. 

The other fatalities were identified as Aquino's close-in security detail Police Senior Sgt. Rodio Sario; his driver Dennis Abayon; Police Capt. Joselito Tabada; Police Senior Sgt. Romeo Laoyon; and Clint John Paul Yauder, a civilian. 

Aquino is the 25th local executive killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.