GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 November) – Police authorities are looking into a longtime land conflict as behind the daring killing of two police officers in the city on Tuesday.
Senior Supt. Froilan Quidilla, city police director, said Thursday they are currently investigating the possible connection of the murders of Police Officer 1 (PO1) Franklin Akiatan and Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Raul Capati to the recent shooting of a land claimant and three other people along the national highway here.
He said the two policemen were reported to have links with land claimant Hannah Paglangan, who was wounded along with her three companions following an attack by two motorcycle-riding gunmen in front of a local restaurant last Nov. 12.
“That’s (land conflict) one of the motives were looking into as of now. We’re also considering several other angles but we cannot divulge them yet as it might hamper our ongoing operations,” Quidilla said.
PO1 Akiatan had just emerged from a Jollibee outlet in Barangay Calumpang here at around 10:30 a.m. last Tuesday when he was shot by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen.
At past 5 p.m., SPO1 Capati was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding gunmen near the junction of the Mabuhay Road and the national highway here.
A responding policeman immediately pursued and engaged the suspects in a shootout, leading to the killing of one of them and the arrest of another several hours later.
Quidilla said the fallen suspect, who was reportedly the driver of the getaway motorcycle, was identified by his relatives as Bensar Sapial, a resident of Barangay Lapu in Polomolok, South Cotabato.
He said Sapial and the arrested suspect, whose identity was withheld, appeared to be “guns-for-hire” from the area.
The police official said investigators are set to conduct a cross-matching of the recovered slugs from the killing of Akiatan and Capati as well as the shooting of Paglangan’s group with the firearms that were recovered from the suspects.
He said they have asked Paglangan to check whether the suspects in Capati’s killing resemble those who attacked them two weeks ago.
Chief Supt. Alex Paul Monteagudo, Region 12 police director, earlier said the arrest of Capati’s alleged gunman could eventually lead to the resolution of the case.
He said they were also evaluating the footage of Akiatan’s killing that was reportedly caught by the closed-circuit television or CCTV camera of the food chain’s outlet.
Sources said Capati was earlier detailed as police escort of Paglangan, who was head of a Blaan clan that is claiming part of the 990 hectares of land from a cancelled pasture lease in Barangays Apopong and Sinawal here.
Last month, unidentified gunmen shot dead a resident of T’boli town in South Cotabato identified as Tony Piang while the latter was driving a motorcycle borrowed from SPO1 Capati.
Police said Capati, who is a member of the City Public Safety Company, was the likely target of the attack.
In early October, Capati and Paglangan survived an ambush by unidentified gunmen in Barangay Basag, T’boli town in South Cotabato. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)