Criminal charges filed vs Ecija bus slay suspects

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Criminal charges filed vs Ecija bus slay suspects
Screengrab from a dashcam video shows a man shooting two passengers of a bus bound for Manila on November 15, 2023.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Criminal complaints have been filed against five suspects tagged in the killing of two persons in a bus in Nueva Ecija last month.

Among those charged was the son of one of the victims, who was said to be the mastermind in the murder of his mother.

The complaints for two counts of murder were filed on Monday before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Palayan City, according to Brig. Gen. Jose Hidalgo Jr., Central Luzon police director.

In a text message to The STAR, Hidalgo said that among those charged was Charlito Atilano Jr., alias Tisoy, son of Gloria Atilano, who was killed along with her companion, Arman Bautista, in a bus of the Victory Liner in Carranglan town on Nov. 15.

Gloria and Bautista were on their way to Manila when they were shot dead by two men. The killing was caught in the bus’ dashcam.

The other suspects were identified as alleged gunmen Allan delos Santos and Romelito Fabianes.

Police have yet to identify two more suspects including the young Atilano’s alleged live-in partner.

“Justice has been served to the victims and their bereaved families with the identification, arrest and filing of criminal complaints before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office,” Hidalgo said in a news briefing at the Central Luzon police headquarters in San Fernando, Pampanga yesterday.

Police obtained vital leads in the case after the arrest of Delos Santos, allegedly a contract killer, in Dilasag, Aurora on Nov. 20. The arrest was based on warrants for statutory rape and sexual assault, Hidalgo said.

“Delos Santos gave information about his participation in the bus killing,” he said.

Delos Santos executed an extrajudicial confession, wherein he tagged Atilano as the mastermind in the murder of Gloria and Bautista, according to Nueva Ecija police director Col. Richard Caballero.

In his affidavit, Delos Santos said that Atilano promised to pay P120,000 in exchange for the life of the victims.

“The gunmen received P20,000 as downpayment and waited for Atilano’s instructions,” Caballero said.

He said Atilano allegedly plotted the murder of his mother as early as September.

Police said a personal grudge between the mother and son was the motive for the killing.

Gloria had reportedly charged her son with robbery and car theft, and vowed to strip him of his rights over all her property. – Ramon Efren Lazaro, Ric Sapnu

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