Cop wanted for killing of student nabbed in Sultan Kudarat

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 11 November) – Joint operatives arrested in Bagumbayan town, Sultan Kudarat province the rookie policeman who killed a female college student and wounded two others early on Thursday in a boarding house in Koronadal City.

Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat. Map courtesy of Google

Maj. Felix Fornan, Bagumbayan police chief, said suspect Patrolman Roland Lopez, 29, was nabbed around past 1 p.m. while fleeing aboard his silver Toyota Altis sedan along the main highway in Barangay Titulok.

He said the suspect did not resist when he was cornered by personnel from their station and the Sultan Kudarat Police Provincial Office.

Fornan said they received a report around 12 p.m. that Lopez was spotted in the area and headed towards Senator Ninoy Aquino town.

“We trailed his vehicle until we eventually caught up with him along the highway,” he said in a phone interview.

The team found inside the vehicle the Philippine National Police-issued M4 Armalite rifle (not M16 as initially reported) allegedly used by the suspect in the shooting.

Fornan said the operation was conducted in coordination with the Police Regional Office-12, Special Action Force, Regional Mobile Force Battalion-12, South Cotabato 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC), and the National Bureau of Investigation.

Lopez, who is a member of the South Cotabato 1st PMFC, reportedly opened fire at the victims around 2:50 a.m. using the rifle through a window of a rented room at the Oca boarding house in Gatuslao Street, Barangay Zone 3 in Koronadal City around 2:50 a.m.

Charmaine Rose Canlas, 22, a graduating student of the Notre Dame of Marbel University, died on the spot, while her companions, Joana Saptula and Debie John Franco, were wounded.

Police said the incident happened several hours after the victims came to the Koronadal City police station to file a report after being harassed by Lopez.

It reportedly enraged the policeman, who figured in an earlier quarrel with his girlfriend Saptula, and went wild in a fit of jealousy.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, the PRO-12 director, lauded the arrest of Lopez after several hours of extensive pursuit operations.

The police official offered a P100,000 reward on Thursday morning for any information that could lead to the immediate capture of the suspect.

“I (assure) you that justice will be given to the family of the victims and that administrative and criminal cases will be filed against Pat. Lopez,” he said in a statement.

Tagum said the incident was “unfortunate but an isolated case” and does not reflect the majority of police personnel “who are performing their sworn duty of serving and protecting the people with honor and integrity.” (With a report from Richelyn Gubalani/MindaNews)