Rookie cop hunted for death of student in Koronadal

Koronadal City, South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 11 November) – Police have launched extensive pursuit operations against a rookie policeman who reportedly killed a female college student and wounded two others using a high-powered service firearm in a boarding house in Koronadal City early on Thursday.

Lt. Col. Maria Joyce Birrey, the spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 (Soccsksargen), said police teams have been dispatched in parts of the region to locate and arrest suspect Patrolman Roland Roquero Lopez of the South Cotabato Police Mobile Force Company (PMFC).

She said PRO-12 chief, Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, has offered a P100,000 reward for any information that could lead to the capture of Lopez “the soonest possible time.”

A police report said Lopez, 29, reportedly opened fire at the victims around 2:50 a.m. using an M16 Armalite 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, 21, a graduating student of the Notre Dame of Marbel University, died on the spot as a result of the shooting.

Her two companions, Joana Saptula and Debie John Franco, both 21 years old, were wounded and currently undergoing treatment at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City.

Witnesses said the victims were inside the room and already preparing to sleep when the incident happened.

Lt. Col. Joedy Lito Guisinga, Koronadal City police chief, confirmed that the three initially came to the city police station past 11 p.m. Wednesday to file a report after allegedly being harassed by Pat. Lopez.

He said it stemmed from a quarrel between the suspect and his reported girlfriend Saptula, a roommate of Canlas.

The suspect was supposedly jealous of the perennial presence of Franco, who is a boyfriend of Canlas, at the boarding house, he said.

Guisinga said Lopez, who was reportedly drunk, later returned to the area, proceeded to the room situated at the second floor of the boarding house, and fired at the victims using a Philippine National Police-issued firearm.

“That’s the initial information that we received. We’re still validating this and we will get a clearer picture once the two other victims (Saptula and Franco) become stable,” he told reporters.

The police official said they immediately coordinated with the suspect’s superiors at the South Cotabato PMFC to help locate his whereabouts and facilitate his peaceful surrender.

But he said Lopez, who hails from Barangay Topland in Koronadal City, has reportedly fled using his unspecified sedan-type vehicle.

Birrey said the PRO-12 headquarters has alerted all police units in the region and the neighboring areas for the possible presence of the suspect.

She said they also sought help from Army units operating various checkpoints along major highways in the area.

“We’re doing everything to arrest the suspect. Our regional director has reiterated that we don’t tolerate or condone this kind of act,” she said in a radio interview.

She appealed to residents to immediately report to the nearest police station if they spotted the suspect or have information regarding his possible location. (MindaNews)