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Slain PNP-HPG agent laid to rest

SLAIN Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group agent Chief Master Sergeant Julius Arcalas yesterday was given a hero’s sendoff as he was laid to his final resting place in Bacoor City five days after he was gunned down by a berserk ex-Philippine Military Academy cadet in Cavite City.

PNP-HPG director, Brigadier General Alexander C. Tagum led his men in bidding Arcalas goodbye, noting how he died literally with his boots on. The policeman was buried at the Eternity Memorial Garden in Barangay Kaingan in Bacoor City.

Tagum said their investigation showed that the vehicle used by the slain gunman identified as Methusael Cebrian was acquired thru the so-called ‘sangla/pasalo’ scheme in which motor vehicles acquired thru bank loans are being pawned to other persons using fraudulent registration papers.

Police are also investigating the record of the assault rifle used by the suspect in firing at Arcalas and his colleagues 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.

The weapon was used by Cebrian in shooting at members of the Cavite Highway Patrol Team killing 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 heard 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. Zuñiga is now facing criminal charges.

When the suspects’ vehicle 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.

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 offenses.

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.

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.