AGENTS of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 arrested another suspected ‘hitman’ of ousted Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo ‘Arnie’ Teves in an operation in Bayawan City on Sunday, a report to Philippine National Police chief General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. said yesterday.
PRO7 director Brigadier Gen. Anthony A. Aberin identified the suspect as Menjie Tapos Barte alias ‘Jojo,’ who is said to be a ‘sidekick’ of the ‘hitman’ of the lawmaker Alex Mayagma.
Mayagma was killed in a gunfight with members of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office last July.
According to the Central Visayas police director, Barte is the main suspect in the killing of one Jhonar Barrios in Barangay Malabugas in Bayawan City last June 28.
Prior to his capture, the Negros PPO had already forwarded a complaint for murder against him in connection with the killing of Barrios before the Bayawan City Prosecutor’s Office last September 8.
“Barte was also linked to the activities of a private armed group and previous killings in Negros Oriental prior to his arrest,” Brig. Gen. Aberin said.
The official said that members of the Bayawan City Police Station apprehended the suspect following a phone call from a concerned citizen regarding the presence of an armed motorcycle-riding man with a female companion in Bgy. Pagatban around 7:45 a.m. last Sunday.
Acting on the information, officers from the Bayawan City police and the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office under Colonel Ronan R. Claravall rushed to the area to check the report with the support of the PRO7 Regional Special Operations Group.
The operation led to the arrest of the 41-year old suspect, who matched the description given by the phone caller: a man wearing a yellow t-shirt while driving an XRM motorcycle.
When frisked, the suspect yielded two caliber .45 semi-automatic pistols with two magazines containing 13 live ammunition, an inside holster, P206 in cash and an estimated 20 grams of shabu worth P136,000.
Brig. Gen. Aberin said that the suspect will be facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 and gun ban under the Omnibus Election Code.
“The accused is now undergoing a thorough questioning regarding his involvement in a number of killings in the province during the term of Teves,” said the official.
The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 51 has issued an e-warrant of arrest against Teves and three others for the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and the nine others.
Apart from Teves, also ordered arrested were Angelo Palagtiw, Capt. Lloyd Cruz Garcia II and a certain “Gie Ann,” a sister of Angelo.
The Palagtiw siblings reportedly served as lookouts during the brutal killing of Degamo last March 4, while Garcia was the pilot-in-command of the helicopter that transported the suspects from Dumaguete City to Davao.