PNP forms Task Force George to go after mayor’s killers

Chief Supt. German Doria, Region 12 police director, said they formed “Task Force (TF) George” on Sunday based on a directive from PNP Director General Oscar Calderon to “prioritize the immediate resolution of the case.”

Yabes, 64, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding gunmen while driving his relatives from Hawaii around town on board his Willy’s jeep at around 1:45 p.m. Saturday.

Yabes, who is serving his last term, was shot on his nape.

Doria said  the task force is headed by PNP Region 12’s chief investigator Senior Supt. Norberto Batislaong and will be supported by lead investigators of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Crime Laboratory.

“We organized a high-level team of investigators to give more focus on the investigation of the killing, which appears to be deeply-rooted.,” Doria told reporters Monday morning.

Doria said they are considering a number of angles regarding the motive of the killing, among them the heated local politics and possible grudges because of the mayor’s strict leadership style.

The police official said he instructed TF George to dig deeper into political angle of the killing.

During a town celebration last May, police uncovered an alleged plot to kill Yabes and arrested the suspected assassin Belino Sumadang, who claimed to have been hired to kill Yabes by a certain Ambong for P200,000.

Sumadang, who was arrested at the municipal gym where the mayor was then officiating at an affair, identified Maitum Vice Mayor Felix Reganit as the alleged mastermind of the assassination plot. Reganit repeatedly denied the accusation.

Doria admitted that they are strongly looking at such angle as motive but pointed out that they don’t have any evidence on hand that would link the alleged suspects to the mayor’s murder.

“We can’t use these circumstances as evidence. We need to gather hard evidences and witnesses,” he added.          

Yabes, a successful businessman when he turned to politics about a decade ago, was largely credited for turning the once quiet town into a rising eco-tourism and trading center in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao.(Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)