Cebu News

Suspects in Dumanjug strafing die in shootout

Bryner L. Diaz - The Freeman

Argao most wanted falls  

CEBU, Philippines - Two men died in a shootout with police during a hot pursuit operation near the boundary of Ronda, Argao and Dumanjug towns dawn yesterday.

The two men were identified as Wilfredo Albios, a councilman of Barangay Masa, Dumanjug and a certain Marciano Tiwan.

They were brought to the hospital but were declared dead on arrival.   Senior Insp. Arvi Arbuis, chief of the Dumanjug police, said they went to Barangay Masa after receiving information at past 2 a.m. about the presence of armed men in the area.

Arbuis said they believed that the armed men were among those who strafed the convoy of Dumanjug Vice Mayor Efren Gica.

 The team that went there was composed of personnel from the Dumanjug police, District Special Weapons and Tactics team, and Regional Public Safety Battalion 7.

When they arrived in Barangay Masa, the suspects have reportedly fled towards Barangay Langin, Ronda and subsequently to Barangay Apo, Argao.

The police, however, outmaneuvered the suspects and a shootout ensued.

“Kung makita ninyo sa lugar sir, duol ra kaayo mga 200 meters ra ilang gidaganan,” Arbuis said.

The exchange of fire ended with Albios and Tiwan slumped on the ground wounded. An M79 grenade launcher was recovered from Tiwan while an M4 assault rifle was recovered from Albios.

 “Pag-abot namo sa lugar, nakabantay na ni sila. nakasibat sila unya nipabuto. Pagbalos sa atong operatiba, nahagba ang duha,” Arbuis said.

Most Wanted

Meanwhile, Arbuis’ team also arrested Bemar James Mejares, 21, the most wanted person in Argao, in the same operation.

Mejares is reportedly part of the group that shot it out with police and it was at his house where the group took shelter.

He was arrested by the police after firearms were found at his residence. These include a 12-gauge shotgun, a KG9, an improvised gun known as “lantaka”.

Police also confiscated 10 M79 grenade ammo; five rounds of 12-gauge shot gun; 33 M16 ammo; and .357, 9mm and .22 caliber ammunition.

A tablet, four mobile phones, digital weighing scale, Swiss knife, two medical scissors and drug paraphernalia were also found at the house.  Arbuis said the items confiscated would indicate that slain men and the suspects arrested are part of a “well-funded and well supported group.”

Mejares denied any involvement with Albios and Tiwan and said the two went to his house only to ask for coffee. When the two finished drinking and left, he then went back to bed until the exchange of fire ensued.

“Niadto na sila sa amoa nanghangyo nga managapi. Kay maayo man ilang hangyo, amo lang pod nga gitagad og tarong. Pagkahuman nila’g kapi nagduyan sila sa gawas nibalik sad ko’g katulog, nakamata na lang kos buto-buto, giingnan ko sa pulis og hapa,” Mejares said.

Police have also taken into custody Mejares’ mother and minor sister and cousin who were at the house at that time.

Mejares’ mother told the police she was preparing breakfast at past 5 a.m. when she heard bursts of gunfire. Her daughter also cried out.

“Nisyagit ko, ana ko, sir naa mi diri sa sulod sir!” she said.


Arbuis said four remaining suspects in the strafing of Gica’s convoy are still at large. A former policeman by the name of Nilo Quirante who was dropped from the PNP’s roll of personnel is reportedly the group’s leader.

Arbuis said Albios was reportedly involved in illegal drug activities. Mejares is the most wanted person in Argao and is suspected to be the killer of a police officer who served as a perimeter security of a drug raid in Moalboal a year ago.

Arbuis said he will continue with the investigation despite reports that Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia wanted him relieved. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

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