Police chief of slain Cagayan mayor’s town sacked

Raymund Catindig, Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) - May 7, 2014 - 12:00am

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – The police chief of Gonzaga, Cagayan was relieved of his post last week following last month’s killing of the town mayor. 

Chief Inspector Freddie Natividad has been designated officer-in-charge of the Gonzaga town police, replacing Senior Inspector Ronnie Siriban who was removed from his post more than a week after the killing of Mayor Cielito Pentecostes Jr.

Siriban, along with several police officers, including provincial police intelligence agents, is being investigated for supposed intelligence and security lapses that led to the incident.

Pentecostes, 60, was gunned down by two of eight men in camouflage, as he was leading the flag-raising ceremony at the town hall grounds last April 21. He died from nine gunshots in the head and upper body.

The assailants were among more than 30 armed men, who police tagged as New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who seized control of the town hall grounds, ransacked the municipal building, and commandeered a police patrol car as one of their four getaway vehicles.

Meanwhile, thousands of placard-bearing residents in white attire gathered at the Gonzaga town proper until late Sunday night to seek justice for their murdered mayor. Pentecostes will be laid to rest tomorrow. 

Residents hailed the late mayor, whose wife and three of their children are now based in the United States, as a “hardworking and honest to goodness” public servant.

“For a very short stint in politics, we have seen a lot of development opportunities in the town. He was a builder and hardworking public servant,” said Barangay Ammunitan chairman Rudy Calipdan. 

“We have lost a good father who was doing all his best to improve our economic and social conditions,” said resident Jade Sobrevega.

Pentecostes’ family expressed belief that his killing had something to do with politics, suspecting that the armed men could be guns-for-hire.

The NPA’s West Cagayan Command though has owned up to the killing, accusing Pentecostes of “espionage” or aiding the military in counter-insurgency operations.

Chief Superintendent Miguel Laurel, Cagayan Valley police director, said murder and robbery charges have been filed against the suspects in the killing before the local prosecutor’s office.

Among those charged, according to reports, were David Soriano and Rolando Ibis, who police tagged as ranking NPA leaders in Cagayan. They were identified in the footage of a closed-circuit television camera installed at the Gonzaga town hall grounds.

BARANGAY AMMUNITAN CAGAYAN VALLEY CHIEF INSPECTOR FREDDIE NATIVIDAD CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT MIGUEL LAUREL DAVID SORIANO AND ROLANDO IBIS GONZAGA JADE SOBREVEGA MAYOR CIELITO PENTECOSTES JR. NEW PEOPLE POLICE
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