Syndicate involved in killing of Polomolok car dealer?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/3 Feb) – Police investigators in South Cotabato are looking at the possible involvement of an alleged carnapping syndicate in the daring murder last month of a car dealer in Polomolok town.

Chief Insp. Ramil Villagracia, Polomolok deputy police chief, said Thursday they received reports that the killing of businessman Ronald Borja last Jan. 7 could have been triggered by the latter’s previous engagements with a syndicate supposedly specializing in the selling of stolen or carnapped vehicles in the area.

“The case is actually very complicated and we’re looking at several possible angles right now. One of them is his supposed (Borja) involvement in a deal (with the syndicate) that had gone bad,” he said in a radio interview.

Borja, 49, was gunned down by a lone motorcycle-riding suspect in front of a drug store in Poblacion, Polomolok while he was returning to his parked vehicle.

The victim owns a car wash business and a known dealer of imported and used vehicles in the area.

Villagracia said the initial results of their investigation showed that the victim was previously involved with a group based in Davao City that sells imported vehicles.

He said the imported vehicles were shipped into the country through the ports of the cities of Butuan and Surigao.

“From the port, they would repaint the vehicles and deal them to buyers in key cities in Mindanao. The problem is, some of these units had tampered body numbers and documents,” the police official said.

Villagracia said the victim supposedly partnered with a Davao City-based businessman in selling the imported cars, including units that carried tampered documents.

“Sometime last year, he (Borja) was actually arrested in Davao City while driving a Nissan Safari vehicle that had questionable documents,” he said.

Villagracia said some people close to Borja reported that “somebody from Surigao” had allegedly plotted to liquidate Borja over a “bad transaction.”

“Before he was murdered, Borja would rarely leave his vehicle due to fears that somebody has been trailing and out to kill him,” he said, citing accounts from the victim’s relatives.

But Villagracia refused to speculate whether the victim had previous engagements with carnapping syndicates that had reportedly been dumping stolen vehicles from Metro Manila in several parts of Southwestern Mindanao and the neighboring regions.

Police officials in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao earlier confirmed that they had recovered several vehicles that were stolen in Metro Manila that ended up in this region.

One of the alleged members of the syndicate was earlier arrested by police operatives at a checkpoint in Koronadal City in South Cotabato. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)