POLICE are investigating the records of the vehicle and assault rifle used by an ex-Philippine Military Academy cadet in shooting a group of Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group agents in Cavite City last Friday before he was killed on the spot.
The vehicle, a Nissan Terra with attached conduction sticker F2G911 and the weapon- a caliber 5.56 Bushmaster automatic rifle were turned over to the Cavite City Police Station for investigation by the PNP-HPG headed by Brigadier General Alexander C. Tagum.
The weapon was used by Methusael Cebrian in shooting at members of the Cavite Highway Patrol Team killing Chief Master Sergeant Julius Arcalas and injuring two other HPG operatives and a civilian.
Cebrian’s companion, a Philippine Navy ‘striker’ or utility personnel at the Navy headquarters in Sangley, Cavite City identified as Reymund Zuñiga surrendered to the HPG Special Operations Division-Task Force Limbas headed by Lieutenant Colonel Joel Manuel Ana last Sunday.
The Journal Group learned that Zuñiga, after he surrendered to the PNP-HPG told investigators that he and Cebrian were on their way to pick a birthday cake for the latter’s child when they were accosted by the patrolling HPG officers.
Zuñiga claimed that he was told by Cebrian to immediately drive as soon as he hear gunfire. The man said that shortly after he heard the gunshots, he stepped on the gas and fled.
It turned out that Cebrian fired shots at the HPG men who were positioned near their mobile car along the Manila-Cavite Road in Barangay 8, Pulo 3, Cavite City.
The initial volley of fire from the suspect hit Arcalas before one of the latter’s colleagues managed to return fire killing the latter.
Wounded were Captain Eduardo Joy Guadamor and Staff Sgt. Emerson Domingo and a civilian identified as Eduardo Magbana who was hit by stray bullets said to have been fired by the suspect.
The records of the vehicle is now being checked by the PNP-HPG with the Land Transportation Office. A viral video of the shooting showed the HPG men asking the occupants of the vehicle to produce their registration papers, identification cards and Zuñiga’s driver’s license since the vehicle had no license plates and conduction sticker.
When it was surrendered to the PNP-HPG and turned over to the Cavite City police headed by Lt. Col. Franco Allex Reglos, it was reported to be sporting the conduction sticker F2G911.
Brig. Gen. Tagum said they will be asking for additional armored vests and assault rifles for use of their mobile patrolmen in the aftermath of the incident.
“We will be requesting for additional armored vests and assault rifles for use of our mobile patrol personnel so that they will be properly equipped with appropriate protective equipment and defensive weapons whenever they encounter that similar situation in the future,” the PNP-HPG director told the Journal Group.
A viral video of the incident showed members of the Cavite Highway Patrol Team asking the driver and passenger of a silver gray Nissan Terra to produce their registration papers and driver’s license.
The video clearly showed the passenger arguing with the HPG men who accosted them since their vehicle had no license plates and LTO Conduction Sticker which are all impoundable offense.
The passenger stood his ground and refused to heed the HPG men’s instruction and his driver later closed the vehicle’s window. A few minutes later, the passenger who was armed with a caliber 5.56 Bushmaster automatic rifle opened fire at the HPG officers who were forced to retaliate.
The last part of the video showed the gunman slumped on the ground with the weapon beside him. It turned out that the other members of the Cavite PHPT Team managed to shoot him dead.
Tagum said that the incident will further teach them a lesson when it comes to accosting occupants of suspicious motor vehicles. “It’s part of our continuing training program. We incorporated police intervention and high-risk stop procedures in our HPG Trainers’ Training for motorcycle tactical response course last week even before that unfortunate incident,” the official said.
Tagum however said ‘we will not be deterred in our commitment to secure and render safe all our highways and streets’ despite the Cavite incident.
“We render our salute and mourn the loss of our fellow officer, PCMS Julius Arcalas who died in line of duty. We honor his life by making sure that we will continue keeping the streets safe from this kind of people who took his life,” the PNP-HPG director said.
Tagum also expressed their deepest sympathies to the love ones of the slain HPG officer and ensured full support to his children.
“While we mourn, we vow that his death will strengthen even more our resolve in ensuring that these criminals are removed from our highways nationwide,” he said.
According to Regional Highway Patrol Unit 4-A chief, Lt. Col. Samson Belmonte, his men were conducting an anti-carnapping operation in the area when they spotted the suspects who were on board a silver gray Nissan Terra without plate number.
When they flagged down the driver of the vehicle for a routine inspection, he and his companion identified themselves as members of the Philippine Navy. Belmonte said that SSgt. Domingo peeped thru the car window and saw a pixelized Navy uniform hanging at the passenger seat too.
However, when the driver was asked to produce the vehicle’s registration papers and his driver’s license, the 2nd passenger who was armed with the automatic rifle suddenly alighted from the vehicle and fired at the HPG operatives prompting the officers to retaliate.
Chief MSgt. Arcalas was hit in the body during the exchange of gunfire and died while being taken to the Cavite Medical Center.
Despite being wounded, Guadamor and Domingo managed to shoot the gunman dead prompting his companion to flee towards the direction of Noveleta municipality.
According to Belmonte, a record check showed that Cebrian also turned out to be the driver of a wagon who became the subject of a viral video during a nationwide gun ban enforcement in 2016 after he brandished his loaded pistol in the heat of his confrontation with a female driver in Cavite.