The Cagayan Police Provincial Office has formed a Special Investigation Task Group that will focus on the ambush that took place on Monday that killed four people, including the former mayor and vice mayor of Lasam, who are also both incumbent councilors of the said town.
The victims were identified as Councilor Marjorie Salazar, former mayor; Councilor Eduardo Asuten, former vice mayor; Salazar driver John Rey Apil, and his secretary Aiza Manuel.
According to the Lasam Police investigation, the victims were on their way home riding a van when they were allegedly followed by two private vehicles.
Their van was ambushed when they arrived at the national highway in Barangay Ignacio B. Jurado.
“Sinabayan nila yung van. ‘Yong isa, nasa side, dito sa left, sa driver’s side. Tapos ‘yong isang sasakyan, nasa likod. While moving, pinapaputukan,” said P/Col. Ariel Quilang, provincial director of Cagayan Police and leader of SITG.
When the driver was hit, the van lost control and ran aground on the fence. But the suspects are still shooting.
On the Facebook page of the Cagayan Police Provincial Office, Police Lt. Col. Andree Abella found 195 empty shells of a 5.56 mm armalite rifle and 6 empty shells of caliber 45 at the crime scene.
Motives for murder of former mayor and vice mayor of Lasam, Cagayan under investigation
Authorities are conducting a manhunt operation to apprehend those behind the ambush estimated at six people.
Some of the motives being investigated by the task group are Salazar’s involvement in the murder case last year of Benjamin Agatep, municipal administrator of Lasam. Salazar strongly denied this at a press conference on January 29, 2021.
“Bilang isang Lasameno, nalulungkot po ako sa pagpanaw ni Benjamin Agatep at mariin ko pong kinokondena ang karumal-dumal na pagpaslang sa kaniya. Pinagdarasal ko po na mabigyang hustisya ang pagkamatay ni Benjamin Agatep at ang tunay na may sala ay mahuli at mapagbayad sa krimen na ito,” said Salazar at the time.
It also looks at whether the ambush was politically motivated. Salazar’s name was implicated in President Rodrigo Duterte’s narcolist. It could also be a robbery because Salazar’s bag was allegedly missing.