GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 April) – Five people, including a policeman, were killed in an alleged shootout between police operatives and suspected car thieves in an outskirt village in Koronadal City early on Sunday evening.
Senior Supt. Randolph Delfin, South Cotabato police director, said Monday the incident happened at around 6:30 p.m. in Purok Waling-waling, Barangay New Pangasinan in Koronadal City.
He said among those killed was a member of the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office’s intelligence branch identified as Senior Police Officer 1 Robert Muega.
“This is a sad week…we lost one good friend. He (Muega) died in the performance of his duty,” Delfin said during the flag-raising ceremony at the provincial police headquarters.
A police report identified the four other fatalities as Alfredo Suegay and Christopher Calderon, both civilians, as well as alleged car thieves Rolly Mamangcas Masulot and Ronnie Mangudadatu.
Delfin said they were still gathering the other details of the incident, which local sources said happened while the victims were having a drinking and videoke session at a local store in the area.
The source, a village watchman who responded at the scene, claimed Muega and his friends were at the height of their videoke and drinking spree when the suspects arrived and later shot them for still
unknown reasons at past 6 p.m.
Muega’s group reportedly included Calderon, Suegay and another policeman identified as Police Officer 1 Sammy Marcellano. The four were all residents of the area.
Suegay was supposedly a police confidential agent while Calderon was the owner of the store and the videoke spot.
The suspects, who arrived aboard a Kawasaki Baja motorcycle with license plate 4581 MD, initially posed as customers of the store, the source said.
“Several shots came after that. It was the two suspects who reportedly fired first at Muega’s group,” the source, who requested anonymity, told radio station Bombo Radyo in the vernacular.
Muega, Suegay and Calderon, who were found by responding policemen and village officials slumped inside the videoke cottage beside the store, died due to multiple gunshot wounds from a caliber .45 handgun.
The two suspects, who were found lying in a canal a few meters from the scene, were allegedly killed in an ensuing shootout with Marcellano.
Teresita Paderna, Barangay New Pangasinan chair, said they were not aware of any police operation in their village and they only responded at the scene after the shooting had stopped.
“The Koronadal City police personnel were already securing and investigating the scene when we arrived,” she said.
Paderna said the suspects were not residents of their village. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)