Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo in a hospital in Legazpi City where he was taken after allegedly suffering hyperventilation caused by asthma.
CIDG-Bicol Photo
Mayor hospitalized; gun in Batocabe slay found
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Mayor Carlwyn Baldo of Daraga, Albay, the principal suspect in the killing of Ako Bicol congressman Rodel Batocabe and his police escort last December, was rushed to hospital late Tuesday, just hours after he was arrested.

Officials claimed Baldo was suffering from hyperventilation brought by asthma. Police earlier arrested the mayor for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, after Albay prosecutors moved slowly in indicting Baldo for the twin murders and securing a warrant for his arrest.

This developed as police recovered the alleged murder weapon, a .45 caliber pistol, in a fishpond in Barangay Busay in Ligao City, Albay yesterday.

The firearm fitted the description given by Christopher Naval, one of the suspects, police said.

Naval said the pistol was used by Henry Yuson, one of two gunmen who had surrendered to the police.

Yuson had admitted using the gun and throwing it into a river.

Police recovered parts of a .45 pistol and two magazines from a septic tank in Pili, Camarines Sur on Jan. 10.

Investigators said the gun parts were found at the house owned by Rolando Aromado, one of the two gunmen who killed Batocabe and SPO1 Orlando Diaz on Dec. 22, 2018.

Baldo has been consistently tagged as the one who ordered the assassination of his potential political rival.

All the six suspects who had surrendered gave separate statements, consistently pointing to Baldo as their principal.

(Left) PNP chief Oscar Albayalde receiving from the House of Representatives the P8 million remaining from the bounty raised for those who provided information on the killers. (Right) A gun used in the assassination, which was recovered from a fish pond in Ligao City, Albay. Boy Santos, CIDG-Bicol Photo

Although Baldo denied the allegations and has yet to be indicted for the murders, police pinned the mayor down on charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Operatives of the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) raided Baldo’s residence in Barangay Tagas on Tuesday and recovered two .45 caliber pistols with eight bullets and ammunition for an M203 grenade launcher and a rifle.

The CIDG said the ammunition for a grenade launcher is considered an explosive.

The regional police earlier confiscated Baldo’s three firearms, a 12-gauge shotgun and two .45 automatics.

Baldo failed to turn over a rifle that was issued to him, which he claimed has been missing since last year.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde gave assurance that no special treatment would be given to Baldo at the hospital.

Albayalde said they will deliberate whether Baldo should be confined in one of their own medical facilities. Even if not in a detention cell, there is no chance for the local official to escape, he said.

“He is heavily guarded,” he said.

Albayalde earlier told a forum that they have yet to receive the P30-million reward that Batocabe’s colleagues at the House of Representatives collected for the solution of the murder.

What they received, according to the PNP chief, is the P20 million promised by President Duterte.

Albayalde made the statement before the lawmakers fulfilled their promise to turn over a total of P13 million in bounty.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo turned over P8 million to the PNP with Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez and Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez turning over the rest of the cash reward.

The bounty was turned over to Albayalde in formal ceremonies at the PNP headquarters yesterday.

Benitez said they were able to raise a total of P13 million from 197 congressmen who pitched in at least P30,000. There were varying amounts of contribution, the highest of which was the Speaker’s at P100,000.

On top of the P20 million that the President gave, there were also other pledges like the P15 million pledge of Batocabe’s Ako Bicol party-list, aside from the P2 million of the provincial government of Albay.

Ako Bicol’s second nominee, Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., said the P15 million will be given in tranches because they have to ensure that the suspects will not retract their testimonies, up to the time the judge will find them guilty of double murder.

Albayalde, for his part, clarified the cash reward will not go to the policemen but to Emmanuel Judavar, the government’s prime witness in the murder and Baldo’s former associate.

Judavar was initially a party of the plot to kill Batocabe but backed out over disagreements with Baldo.

Three of the six alleged participants in the murder could also receive cash rewards after they applied to become witnesses in the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program.

Albayalde did not disclose who among the six have applied. He clarified the PNP will not receive any of the cash incentives offered for the resolution of Batocabe’s murder.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections in Bicol urged the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to monitor the political situation in Daraga following the arrest of Baldo.

Comelec-Bicol director Maria Juana Valesa said the police and the military should provide them situational reports in Daraga.

The town has been placed under Comelec control after Baldo was implicated in the killing of Batocabe, his rival in the mayoralty race in the local elections in May.

Valesa said the Department of the Interior and Local Government should also decide who will succeed Baldo should he be temporarily or permanently incapacitated to perform his duties following his arrest.

“We will only intervene should the sitting elective officials of Daraga be already obviously using their position to influence the conduct of election activities there,” Valesa said. – With Delon Porcalla, Cet Dematera

CARLWYN BALDO RODEL BATOCABE
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