Charges filed vs killers of SouthCot mayor

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 15 July) – Police has filed murder charges against two alleged hired gunmen in connection with the killing last July 10 of Sto. Niño, South Cotabato Mayor Pablo Matinong Jr., a police official said on Wednesday.

Municipality of Sto. Niño, South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

Col. Jemuel Siason, South Cotabato police director, said they filed the complaint before the provincial prosecutor’s office on Monday against one identified suspect and a “John Doe.”

He said the case was filed based on a complaint-affidavit executed by Matinong’s wife, Charina, and statements from several witnesses.

“The witnesses were able to identify the shooter from our rogues gallery,” he said in an interview over radio station Brigada News FM here.

Siason was referring to the motorcycle back rider who gunned down Matinong shortly before 8 a.m. Friday last week at a portion of Purok Libertad, Barangay Poblacion. The driver remains unidentified.

The 55-year-old Matinong was walking alone and inspecting the local government’s projects when he was waylaid by the suspects, who were riding tandem on an unmarked black Honda XRM motorcycle.

The police official did not name the alleged gunman, whom he tagged as a member of a gun-for-hire group, due to the ongoing manhunt operations.

Citing their investigation, Siason said the motive appears to be a “personal grudge” and possibly connected to business-related conflict.

He said that two weeks before the incident, the late mayor announced during the municipal government’s flag ceremony that two suspicious persons came to their house as reported by family members and household workers.

Capt. Ian Bagot, Sto. Niño police chief, asked the mayor for details of the incident and offered some assistance but the latter reportedly downplayed the matter and assuring that he can settle it, he said.

“But at this time we’re also looking at other angles, considering that the suspects are still at-large,” Siason said.

He said these include local politics and the mayor’s inclusion in the “narco-list” of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.

The inter-agency body handling the said list was still processing Matinong’s request for re-evaluation at the time of his death, he said. (MindaNews)