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The Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) said Wednesday it still could not confirm whether the leader of a gun-for-hire group who was wounded in a shootout with operatives on Tuesday was one of those who ambushed the mayor of San Fernando town.
Supt. Virgilio Bayon-on, chief of CPPO Police Community Relations, said they were surprised to read a media report identifying Jerome Labitad as among the suspects in the ambush that injured Mayor Lakambini Reluya and killed her husband, Ricardo, and two others.
Bayon-on said police personnel were serving several warrants of arrest against Labitad for cases of murder and illegal drugs when he reportedly fired at them. He managed to escape after a five-minute gun battle.
The police recovered a high-powered firearm allegedly used by Labitad in engaging the operatives.
Labitad was with his uncle, Councilman Felix Abacajan of Barangay Maghaway in Talisay City, when the encounter between him and the police operatives occurred.
Bayon-on told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that although Labitad is a known gun-for hire, they could not ascertain yet his involvement in the ambush of the Reluyas.
Supt. Marlu Conag, Talisay City Police chief, identified Labitad as the most wanted person in the province, reportedly working as a hit man for some politicians.
Meanwhile, National Bureau of Investigation 7 (Central Visayas) Assistant Director Dominador Cimafranca was quoted by the media here as saying that the bureau is conducting a parallel investigation into the ambush.
Cimafranca said they have gathered CCTV footage and interviewed witnesses of the incident. (PNA)