MANILA (UPDATE) -- A lawyer floated Wednesday the possibility that police officers may have been involved in the abduction of slain Tanauan Mayor Antonio Halili's former aide.
The victim Allan Fajardo used to oversee the infamous "Walk of Shame" in which crime suspects were paraded around Tanauan, back when he was still chief of Halili's anti-criminality group, media reports earlier said.
Fajardo, who is also a businessman, was abducted with his driver by around 11 people in full battle gear who stormed the restaurant of a hotel in Sta. Rosa, Laguna last week.
The kidnappers, after entering the restaurant, immediately fanned out towards strategic locations that "neutralized whatever threats there may be" and prevented Fajardo from escaping, said his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.
"Sabi po ng mga nakakaintindi... ganoon po talaga ang tactical training nila (mga pulis), talagang iyung precision po," he told radio DZMM.
(Those who understand this issue say that's the tactical training of policemen, they focus on precision.)
Several other accomplices, he said, secured the hotel's perimeter before the group carted Fajardo to their van.
"Nagpapatibay po [ito] sa aming hinala na ito po ay talagang mga professional na law enforcement personnel ang nagsagawa... Hindi po maaaring walang training ito, sa kilos lang nila pati po sa gear nila, masyadong high tech po," Topacio said.
(This strengthens our suspicion that professional law enforcement personnel were behind this. It's not possible that they didn't have any training, their actions and gear are too high tech.)
HISTORY WITH POLICE
Topacio said his client in 2016 filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against a police official who led a raid of his home over accusations that he is the leader of a gun-for-hire group.
All firearms seized from Fajardo's home were proven to be licensed, prompting a court to order their return to the businessman, his lawyer said.
Fajardo last year also approached both the police and the National Bureau of Investigation to deny his alleged illegal acts, volunteering for a lie detector test and signing a waiver that allowed authorities to scrutinize his bank transactions, said Topacio.
The businessman has no pending case or any standing warrant of arrest, he added.
VICTIM STILL ALIVE?
A charred body found in Cavite is "definitely" not Fajardo, said Topacio, citing a height difference.
Fajardo's relatives and friends were still hopeful that he is alive and have offered P2 million for information that could lead to his rescue, said the lawyer.
The NBI, he said, has also invited one person of interest to their office and was tracking another, based on leads from Fajardo's cellphone left at the crime scene.
One person of interest had talked to the businessman over the phone shortly before the abduction, Topacio said.
Investigators are also looking at whether or not the abduction may be tied to Fajardo's work with Halili, who was assassinated during a a flag ceremony in his city in 2018.
He surmised that national police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde may be seeking clearance from the Commission on Elections before issuing a relief order against officers in Sta. Rosa amid the midterm poll period.
"Pero sana po ay pagtuunan ito ng pansin sapagkat ito po ay isang malaking black eye po doon sa peace and order campaign na isinasagawa po dito sa ating bansa -- na something so extensive and so brazen saka very open po, in public pa iyung pag-commit pa ng krimen," said Topacio.
(But we hope that this will be given attention because this is a huge black eye on the peace and order campaign -- this crime was committed so extensively, brazenly in a very open, public area.)
National police spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac said the Sta. Rosa police and the NBI were still investigating the issue despite various opinions on the incident.
"Panawagan sa lahat ng may nalalamang impormasyon, ipagbigay alam agad sa ating kapulisan," he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
"Makakaasa ang publiko na gagawin ng PNP ang mandato nito na alamin ang buong pangyayari at tugisin ang mga suspects upang mapanagot sila sa batas at makamit ang hustisya," he added.
(We ask everyone with information to report to our police. The public can expect that the PNP will do its mandate to find probe the whole incident and hunt down the suspects to hold them accountable before the law and achieve justice.)