Mindoro massacre suspect falls
- by Joe Leuterio and Gina Tabonares () - April 9, 2000 - 12:00am

Intelligence agents of the Armed Forces finally arrested yesterday morning one of two Army soldiers who massacred seven people and wounded two others in a shooting rampage in Victoria, Mindoro Oriental last April 3.

The suspect, Sgt. Marcial Ambulo, who was arrested in a relative's house in Silang, Cavite, was presented to the media at Camp Crame by Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, Armed Forces chief Gen. Angelo Reyes and deputy chief Lt. Gen. Jose Calimlim, head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

Ambulo and T/Sgt. Jove Rubio, along with civilian informer Jaime Gilboy, attacked the victims inside a billiard hall in Victoria town. The massacre drew the attention of President Estrada who personally went to Mindoro Oriental to condole with the victims' families and ordered prosecutors to seek the death penalty for the suspects.

Ambulo, together with Rubio and Gilboy, was arrested hours after the massacre, but he later escaped. The two soldiers belong to Task Force Seagull, a counter-insurgency Army unit assigned on Mindoro island.

After escaping from the Army detachment in Barangay San Isidro in Victoria town, Ambulo went to Bulalacao and then to San Jose, Mindoro Occidental where he hid for days, according to the ISAFP.

Sensing that Army Scout Rangers were closing in on him, Ambulo took a ferry boat from Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental to Batangas City. From there, Ambulo, a resident of Tanza, Cavite, went to his relatives in Silang town.

Superintendent Napoleon Cachuela, Mindoro Oriental police director, said Ambulo did not resist arrest when ISAFP agents, along with a three-man Mindoro police team, collared him as he stepped out of a relative's house.

Officials of Victoria town and Mindoro Oriental heaved a sigh of relief with Ambulo's arrest, expressing hope that families of the massacre victims will soon get justice.

Reyes has ordered the relief of Ambulo and Rubio. He earlier sacked the soldiers' superiors, Col. Carlito Gamit, chief of Task Force Seagull, and Lt. Col. Romeo Gapuz, head of the 49th Infantry Battalion, due to command responsibility.

Superintendent Lucas Managuelod, Region 4 police director, said 10 other members of the 49th IB will be charged as accessories in the massacre.

He identified them as Maj. Mario Estrada, executive officer of the 49th IB, 2Lt. Alvaran, Sergeants Caceres, Erquiza, Cabildo and Lardo, Corporals Vallejos and Corenet and Pfc. Laueno and Muyo.

Managuelod said the 10 soldiers are now under the custody of Brig. Gen. Roberto Santiago, commanding officer of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division in Tanay, Rizal.

The military, acting on the request of Victoria officials, has pulled out the 49th IB from the town and transferred it to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

AMBULO AMBULO AND RUBIO AMBULO AND T ANGELO REYES ARMED FORCES ARMY SCOUT RANGERS BARANGAY SAN ISIDRO MINDORO MINDORO OCCIDENTAL MINDORO ORIENTAL TASK FORCE SEAGULL
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