Deeper probe into killing of BFAR official launched

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 August) —  Police authorities have launched a deeper investigation into the killing of a top official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here early Sunday.

Senior Supt. Cedrick Train, acting city police director, identified the victim as Dante Demerin,  chief of BFAR Region 12’s Quarantine Office based in this city.

Demerin was reportedly the third victim of gun-related murders in the city following its declaration last week as a “no firearms zone.”

He said the victim was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding suspects while he was about to enter their office compound along the corner of Zapote and Champaca Streets at around 1 a.m. Sunday.

“This is a very unfortunate incident and a major challenge for us. We’re still trying to determine the motive and the identity of the suspects and we’ll not stop until this case is resolved,” the Train said.

BFAR duty security guard Virgilio Sumabat told reporters that the victim was about to enter the compound of BFAR-12 Quarantine Office aboard his Strada pickup when gunned down.

Sumabat said he initially heard the victim’s vehicle honk twice, prompting him to rush towards the gate.

But he said he suddenly heard a burst of gunshots so he instinctively tried to fire his issued .38 caliber pistol but it reportedly malfunctioned.

“When the suspects saw me, they drew their guns at my direction so I was forced to take cover,” he said.

Sumabat said the suspects then hastily left the scene aboard a Yamaha DT motorcycle.

A BFAR source said Demerin,  a resident of Dona Soledad Subdivision, came from the wake of a deceased co-worker.

He said the victim initially went to the wake Saturday night at Susana Homes along with his wife, BFAR Region 10 director Visa Demerin, but he brought her home early.

He said the victim decided to just spend the night at their office’s quarters after leaving the wake at past midnight.

“He’s a big loss to our office. I’m not aware that he has any (death) threats or enemies,” the source told MindaNews in a telephone interview Monday.

He said police investigators already inspected their office and took statements from the victim’s co-workers but they have not established any motive regarding the killing.

Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio earlier issued Executive Order (EO) No. 23, formally declaring the city’s 26 barangays as a no-firearm zone “in the interest of peace and order.”

In issuing EO 23, Custodio cited as main reason the prevalence of armed violence and crimes involving firearms in the city since January 2010, which has already “reached the alarming level.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)