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M-16 rifle used to kill mayor

A BALLISTICS test showed that the metallic fragments recovered from the body of slain Los Baños, Laguna Mayor Caesar Perez and in the area where he dropped dead last December 3 were fired from an M-16 automatic rifle, the director of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory said yesterday.

Brigadier General Steve V. Ludan said that two metallic jacket fragments and one lead fragment discovered near the pool of blood that came from the victim as well as three more metallic fragments recovered from his body were fired from a caliber 5.56 firearm. The metal fragments were recovered at the scene by a Crime Lab SOCO team led by Lieutenant Jeirous Reposar, the official said.

However, the PNP Crime Laboratory director said they are yet to establish if the metallic fragments were fired from the one and same rifle.

The mayor was shot in the head, trunk and right shoulder from a distance of around 26 meters.

Ludan told PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas that the recovered metallic fragments have been encoded in the Firearm Identification System Database for cross-matching with other similar fragment found in other crime scenes in the past.

“However, no match has so far been found as of last December 10,” he said.

The Crime Lab findings bolstered a Journal Group report that a ‘sniper’ was involved in the assassination of Perez inside the municipal hall.

In a press briefing at Camp Crame, Police Regional Office 4-A director, Brigadier Gen. Felipe R. Natividad said their investigation showed the 66-year old mayor was shot by a gunman who was positioned approximately 26 meters away from where the official was walking.

The mayor died due to gunshot wounds to the head, trunk and right shoulder, a medico-legal report showed.

Natividad, in the presence of Philippine National Police chief, General Debold M. Sinas said that the suspect or suspects fled towards the direction of Calamba City on board a still unknown motor vehicle.

He said that three metallic fragments from a still unknown bullet were recovered from the body of the slain official. A purported bullet hole was also found near the area as members of the Special Investigation Task Group Perez worked overtime to find out the possible location of the killer.

“We’re checking all CCTV camera footages in the municipality and other areas in Los Baños as part of our all-out effort to find out leads that could lead us to the killers,” said Natividad.

The Calabarzon police director however said they still can’t conclude if the murder was the handiwork of a ‘real sniper’ since some gun experts can also hit a target from a distance of 26 meters. However, since the assassination took place in the evening and from a distance of 26-meters, he admitted that the killer was ‘highly-trained.’

The official said nobody also saw the gunman. CCTV footages they have reviewed also failed to show movements of suspicious persons in the area before the killing.

“We still can’t determine the motive and even the firearm used. Based on SOCO, we can’t conclude yet on the type of the firearm used,’ he added.

SIMILAR TO HALILI KILLING?

The killing of Perez has been likened to the assassination on July 2, 2018 of the late Tanauan City, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili who was killed by an unidentified shooter while attending a flag-raising ceremony at the city hall.

No arrests have been made in connection with the Halili killing which was believed to have been perpetrated by a ‘sniper’ positioned on a higher ground. Just like the killer of Perez, the Halili assassin disappeared without a trace.

Natividad said it could be possible that ‘professional gun-for-hires’ were behind the two slays. However, he said that an investigation showed that Halili was shot from a distance of about 70 meters.

The official created the SITG Perez composed of officers from the Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Crime Laboratory, Regional Investigation Division and the Laguna Police Provincial Office to probe the Perez case as Sinas ordered him to “exhaust all means to get to the bottom of the case and serve justice to the slain local executive.”

Natividad said probers are reviewing all surveillance video footages recorded by security cameras installed around the Los Baños municipal complex and surrounding establishments.

He added that investigators are also establishing the movements of Mayor Perez before and during the shooting to possibly gather more evidence that will assist in the investigation of the case.

An initial investigation showed that the mayor had just returned from a spa in Barangay Baybayin when the suspects who have been tailing him shot him around 8:40 p.m.

The mayor was previously included in President Duterte’s list of ‘narco-politicians’ although he vehemently denied having to do with any illegal drug activities and claimed politics has something to do with it.

Perez used to be a former Laguna vice-governor. His younger brother Ruel was only 48-years old when shot by motorcycle-riding assassins in Bgy. Maahas, also in Los Baños in May 2017.