TWO masked motorcycle-riding gunmen shot and killed the 55-year-old mayor of Sto. Niño, South Cotabato and wounded a bystander as the official was visiting a road concreting project in the municipality around 7:55 a.m. yesterday,Friday, police said.
Police Regional Office 12 director, Brigadier General John Michael F. Dubria said he has ordered the creation of a special investigation task group to lead the probe into the murder of Mayor Pablo Matinog Jr. and the hunt for his killers who were armed with caliber .45 pistols.
An initial investigation showed that the mayor was inspecting the progress of the road concreting project in Purok Libertad, Barangay Poblacion when the suspects arrived and the back-rider immediately fired at him.
The official suffered gunshot wounds in the body and was taken to the Doctor Luntao Clinic and Hospital where an attending physician declared him dead upon arrival.
Investigators from the Sto. Niño Municipal Police Station said they learned that the mayor was alone when he went to the project site.
The victim was walking alone and inspecting the project particularly beside the barangay plaza in Purok Libertad when the suspects who were on board a black Honda XRM motorbike attacked him.
Witnesses said the back-rider immediately shot the mayor twice in the head before fleeing. However, the gunmen stopped a few meters away from the scene and returned to fire more shots at the local government official.
One stray bullet hit Analyn Avance, a 42-year old widow residing in the area. The woman was taken to the same hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound on her left shoulder.
“I have ordered a massive hunt for the assassins and am calling on witnesses to provide us information that would lead to the identification and arrest of the killers. I assure everybody that no stones will be left unturned in the investigation of this dastardly crime,” said Dubria as investigators looked into the possibility that a personal grudge triggered the killing.
Initially, a witness described the driver of the motorcycle as of medium built, wearing a black sweat shirt, dark blue short pants and a black cap with face mask.
On the other hand, the back-rider was described as of medium built, wearing a black sweat shirt, a black short pants, a black cap and with a face mask.
Investigators recovered several spent cal. .45 casings at the scene. The recovered pieces of evidence will be subjected to a ballistic examination by the PNP Crime Laboratory to determine if they could have been fired from weapons used in the commission of other crimes in the province.
The hot pursuit operation is being led by officers from the Sto. Niño MPS, the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company of the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office and the Army.
Dubria said he also ordered all nearby municipal police stations to set up checkpoints to intercept the fleeing suspects.