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Cop tagged in ex-Balaoan vice mayor’s slay pleads not guilty

SuspectA POLICE officer tagged in the assassination of former Balaoan Vice Mayor Al-Fred Concepcion in La Union last year pleaded not guilty during the arraignment in Balaoan, La Union on October 28, 2020.

SPO1 Dario Naval Cahigas is one of the suspects behind the ambush on November 14, 2018 that resulted in the death of Concepcion and one of his aides and injuries to the victim’s companions, including his daughter Balaoan Mayor Aleli Concepcion.

Cahigas faces two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder.

Mayor Aleli Concepcion was with her father when armed men sprayed bullets on their vehicle on the way to the municipal hall.

Al-Fred Concepcion and his aide Mike Ulep died, while Aleli Concepcion and three others were injured during the attack.

Regional Trial Court Branch 34 acting Presiding Judge Asuncion Fikingas-Mandia administered the arraignment of the suspect at 8:30 a.m. in Balaoan.

Cahigas pleaded not guilty to all the charges filed against him. His counsel was not present and moved for the resetting of the case again, but the lawyer of the Concepcion family opposed the motion and argued that it is prohibited under the continuous trial rule.

The court thus ordered that the accused be assisted by a representative from the Public Attorney’s Office.

The pre-trial is scheduled on November 27, 2020.

Mayor Concepcion earlier asked the suspect to divulge the identity of the mastermind and other conspirators in the crime.

I hope and pray that Cahigas divulges what he knows about our ambush and reveals the identity of his co-conspirators for his own peace of mind,” the mayor said in an earlier statement.

Police reports said Cahigas, a PNP member assigned at the Regional Police Holding Assistance Service of Police Regional Office 1, surrendered on August 18, 2020 during the execution of a warrant of arrest issued by Balaoan Regional Trial Court Branch 34 Presiding Judge Marita Bernales Balloguing.

Mayor Concepcion said the cases filed against Cahigas came nearly two years after the ambush. She said several others who were responsible for the gruesome crime remain at large.

There is a standing reward of P10 million for anyone who can provide vital and verifiable information as to the identity of the other perpetrators and ultimately, the masterminds behind our ambush, she said.