“Even in killing men, observe the rules of propriety.” CONFUCIUS
By Alex P. Vidal
WHOEVER masterminded the murder of John Apura, husband of Lemery Mayor Ligaya Apura, is stupid.
John and friend Epaldon Lope were killed when gunmen ambushed them before the elections on May 6, 2013 at around 8 o’clock in the morning.
John was driving a private vehicle in Barangay Anabo, Lemery, Iloilo when waylaid by assailants believed to be hired killers.
John was the target because he was very active in the campaign for the reelection bid of his wife, police theorized.
Lope was only probably “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, investigators said.
Although they managed to kill John, the killers did a sloppy job.
First, they perpetrated the crime in broad daylight.
Second, they allegedly used getaway vehicles that witnesses claimed looked like the private vehicles owned by Mayor Apura’s rival, Lowel Arban, himself the town’s former mayor.
Third, killing Lope wasn’t anymore necessary if the real target was only Apura.
Fourth, they didn’t leave Western Visayas or Panay Island after perpetrating the crime (one of the suspects claimed “they weren’t paid in full yet”, thus they decided to cool off for a while in Iloilo province).
Arban, one of the 12 people charged for John’s murder, denied it was his vehicles the suspects, Richard “Kabal” Caborubias and Rolando “Totong” Magno, had used.
The former mayor insisted “I am not stupid” to order John’s murder and allow the assailants to use his own private vehicles.
Arban lost to the reelectionist Mayor Apura.
Arban and his co-accused surrendered to police January 20 after a warrant for their arrest was issued by Judge Rogelio Amador of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66 in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.
Six days later, Caborubias and Magno were slain in a police operation in Barangay Acuit, Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.
Police from the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) who conducted the operation said Caborubias and Magno resisted arrest and engaged the lawmen in a shootout.
Police Officer 3 Ronan Palmos was wounded on his left hand.
The timing of the operation, however, was suspect.
It happened six days after the surrender of former mayor Arban, Limuel Arban, Mildred Arban-Chavez, Jeffrey Bancaya, Christian Baroro, Vicente Listano, Roberto Marcelino, Rene Abico, Rayan Ares, Nonato Bomingo, Rolando Caborubias, Junior Balume, Francisco Balume Jr., Noel Aspera, Edgar Buenafe, and Roger delos Reyes.
Police said the dead fugitives had been staying in the Develos family in Barotac Nuevo for quite sometime and were helping the Develoses in the farm.
They had several pending warrants of arrest for a series of criminal activities in the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz, police said.
If the police intelligence knew their whereabouts, why did they launch the operation only last January 26?
Based on police report, Magno and Caborubias, were found sprawled on the floor inside the house of the Develos family with gunshot wounds.
Did they intend to commit suicide by engaging the numerically superior cops in a shootout while standing side by side inside a house surrounded by lawmen?
Police added that they found a .45 caliber in Magno’s right hand and a hand grenade in his left hand.
If Magno was hit by a bullet or bullets that caused his death, would he still be holding the gun and the grenade after he fell?
Unless he taped the gun and the grenade on both his hands, it’s impossible for Magno to continue having a full grip on both weapons after he fell.
We don’t want to undermine the success of the police to neutralize the criminals, but these loopholes will have to be addressed by investigators.