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Probers eye dismissed cop as Dominguez protector

MANILA, Philippines - Investigators are checking reports that a dismissed senior police officer is the protector of the notorious Dominguez carjack group.

Sources refused to identify the dismissed police officer pending further investigation into his alleged involvement in the carjacking cases, but they said that he was terminated from the Philippine National Police (PNP) for his alleged involvement in carjacking and fraudulent entry to the police force.

“The missing link of the car theft gang with police protectors is a dismissed police officer,” said the source.

Raymond Dominguez, who is facing 31 charges, 20 of them for car theft, was arrested Monday night by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) under Director Leon Nilo de la Cruz and is now detained at the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

His brother Roger, who was also implicated by Alfredo Mendiola alias Bading and Ferdinand Parulan alias Batibot, remains at large along with a certain alias Joel, alias Jason, alias Rolly and two John Does.

The mother of Dominguez, who accompanied Raymond to the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office during the latter’s inquest, said Roger would also turn himself in to the police soon.

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Not the same gun

In a related development, the investigation on the murder of car dealers Venson Evangelista, Emerson Lozano, and Lozano’s driver Ernani Sensil hit a snag after the slug recovered near Sensil’s body did not match the firearm recovered in the alleged hideout of the group.

Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, director of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG), said forensic experts confirmed that the slugs found imbedded in Sensil’s lungs were not fired from the .9mm gun, one of three firearms recovered in the alleged hideout of the Dominguez group.

Estipona also noted that during the raid, police recovered a cellphone memory card with a marking “Sensil,” which will be subject to forensic analysis.

He said they would ask permission from the wife of Sensil before they could open the memory card, which may contain vital information that could help them solve the case.

Aside from the memory card, forensic experts are also checking the pants with bloodstains and the packing tape recovered from the rented apartment of the Dominguez group.

Estipona, however, did not explain why a memory card would be taken away from the victim before his body was set on fire.

The other night, police operatives swooped down on two separate suspected safehouses of the Dominguez group in Mabalacat and Mexico, both in Pampanga.

The raids yielded eight high-end luxury vehicles, a tow truck, and several used spare parts, which the police suspected came from cannibalized cars stolen by the group.

Recovered were a gray Mitsubishi Montero sport utility without license plate, one red Hyundai Sta. Fe Superior (NTI-548), a red Honda VTEC without license plate, chassis and engine.

Also recovered from the house of Jose Randolph Enriquez in Mabalacat were 15 engines, 35 pieces of tires with rims/mags and four pieces of tires, a transmission, a GS battery and crocodile jack.

Recovered in the Mexico safehouse were a Toyota Elf tow truck with AARS markings (REG-668) and a silver gray Mitsubishi Grandis wagon (ZTG-347).

Central Luzon police director Chief Superintendent Alan Purisima said the evidence in the raids would boost the cases against the Dominguez brothers.

Another raid in San Fernando, Pampanga last night resulted in the recovery of several luxury cars, putting the total of raided Dominguez safehouses to five.

The raids have more or less exposed the extent of the gang’s operation, leaving the authorities to presume that there are people in the police and government that are protecting the group.

Mendiola, in a television interview last night, confirmed that they have cohorts at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) who help them process the papers for the stolen vehicles.

SITG spokesperson relieved

Meanwhile, Estipona announced the relief of SITG spokesman Senior Superintendent Romano Cariño, who was quoted as saying that Evangelista was killed for tipping off police on the presence of eight luxury vehicles in a condominium.

“That was not true (Venson giving tips to police on the stolen luxury vehicles). I relieved the spokesman of SITG Lozano for these very irresponsible and untrue statements, that’s why effective today, I will take over again as the spokesperson,” he said, as he apologized to the Evangelista family, particularly to his father Boy, for the wrong information. – With Reinir Padua, Ric Sapnu, Dino Balabo, Ding Cervantes

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