By Rene Acosta and Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz
A police task force has been formed to probe the ambush of former Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr., as policemen recovered the two vehicles used by the gunmen.
Espino, also a former congressional representative, was recuperating in a hospital following the ambush on Wednesday afternoon at Barangay Magtaking in the city of San Carlos in Pangasinan.
One of his bodyguards, Police Staff Sgt. Richard Esguerra, was killed during the attack, while four others, were also part of the former governor’s convoy, were wounded.
The four were identified as Agapito Quizon, Police Staff Sgt. Jayon Malsi, retired policeman Anthony Columbino and Kervin Marbori.
Pangasinan Provincial Police Director Col. Redrico Maranan said Special Investigation Task Group Espino had been formed to investigate the ambush and arrest the perpetrators.
Several leads were being followed up by policemen.
Based on Maranan’s official report to Camp Crame, Espino was onboard a Toyota Land Cruiser with plate number AAS 8236 when he was attacked along with his vehicle escort, a black Toyota Innova, with conduction sticker A3A913.
The suspects, who were reportedly armed with long firearms, were aboard a red Hyundai Elantra hatchback and a metallic blue Ford Everest.
The Elantra was found abandoned at Barangay Cubol while the Everest was recovered at Barangay Pasim. High-powered M-16 and M-14 rifles were recovered from the vehicles, the report said. Maranan said that at the time of the ambush, Quizon was driving the Toyota Land Cruiser bearing Espino and Malsi.
On the other hand, the Toyota Innova, which served as the backup vehicle bearing Esguerra and Marbori, was driven by Columbino.
The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has condemned the ambush.
The latest report said Espino was severely injured and in stable condition at the intensive care unit of a hospital in San Carlos City, where he was rushed after the 4:30 p.m. attack last Wednesday on his group by still unidentified gunmen.
In a news statement, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte said the House leadership condemns in the strongest possible terms this attempt on the life of Espino.
“Such murderous act has no place in our society, especially under this administration that has won broad and deep popular support because of its tough stance on crime,” he said.
“The House leadership is calling on the Philippine National Police to form right away a strike force that would track down and apprehend the suspects along with the brains behind this dastardly act—and to put all of them behind bars at the soonest possible time,” Villafuerte added.Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas also urged authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We appeal to our authorities to arrest those behind this dastardly act,” said Romualdez.
For his part, Abu said the ambush deplorable act of violence has no place in the country.
“Our authorities should relentlessly pursue and arrest the suspects and mastermind,” said Abu.