by Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde on Thursday ordered a manhunt against the still unidentified assailants who ambushed the convoy of former Pangasinan governor Amado Espino Jr. on Wednesday afternoon.
PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said Albayalde has directed the Police Regional Office (PRO-1) to immediately arrest the suspects, expedite the investigation, and file criminal charges to give justice to the victims.
Banac also said the PNP strongly condemns the attack against Espino and his bodyguards, who were fired upon by unidentified assailants around 4:30 p.m. while traversing an intersection onboard a Toyota Innova and Land Cruiser in Barangay Magtaking, San Carlos City.
Espino and four others were hurt while Pat. Richard Esguerra died on the spot.
Provincial information officer Orpheus Velasco, in an interview Wednesday, said Espino suffered gunshot wounds but is now in stable condition after undergoing treatment.
Col. Redrico Maranan, Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) director, said two suspected get-away vehicles of the assailants in the ambush were recovered.
Maranan said a red Hyundai hatchback was found in Barangay Cobol in San Carlos City while a metallic blue Ford Everest was found in Barangay Pasima in Malasiqui town.
“There were high-powered firearms in the vehicles and the investigators are processing the (pieces of) evidence,” he said.
Maranan added that closed-circuit television cameras around the area and the dash camera of the vehicles, along with eyewitnesses, are being investigated by the authorities.
He said a special investigation task group, called SITG Espino, was formed with the joint efforts of the PPPO, Crime Investigation and Detection Group Regional Office (Ilocos), Police Regional Office among others, to conduct an in-depth investigation into the case.
“Rest assured we are doing everything to solve this case,” Maranan said.
He said as requested, police are providing security to the family of Espino following the ambush. (PNA)