PNP forms special task group for Espino ambush
A special investigation task group (SITG) was created following the ambush of former Pangasinan governor and congressman Amado Espino Jr which resulted in the death of one of his police escort, according to the Pangasinan provincial police director.
In a press briefing Thursday, Police Colonel Redirco Maranan said they created the SITG Espino Jr last Wednesday night.
"Yesterday evening we officially activated the SITG Espino (Jr) led by the provincial director and supervised by the deputy regional director for operations of PRO (Police Regional Office) 1," said Maranan.
According to their initial investigation, the incident transpired around 4:20 pm at Perez Boulevard corner San Carlos-Basista road, Magtaking in San Carlos City.
He said Espino sustained wounds in his stomach and right hand after around 10 unidentified suspects ambushed their vehicles.
Maranan said only one of Espino's police escorts died.
"The (former) governor and two of the wounded escort are now in good condition but the other one is still being observed," he said.
Maranan said the driver of one of the vehicles escaped.
"He went to his province. We cannot find him while we are accounting them so when we find out he went home. We called him and ask him to go here... he will be one of the witnesses," said Maranan.
"He can help to shed light in the incident since he is in the crime scene," he added.
He said prior to the incident, Espino asked for police security claiming he is receiving death threats.
"I talked to him and he said while they were going to the hospital, the suspects still shot at their vehicle," he said.
"According to witnesses accounts, the suspects are waiting for the (former) governor's car and upon seeing it approach they started shooting... the suspects immediately rode their getaway vehicles after Espino's car left," he said.
Maranan said they immediately asked the Malasiqui and Bayambang police stations to conduct checkpoint and chokepoint operations.
"It forced the suspects to not go on their escape route instead they enter secondary roads and there they left their vehicles and high-powered firearms," he said.
Only two of the three vehicles were left by the suspects where they recovered firearms, a grenade, magazines and ammunition.
He said they have persons of interest right now but they are still gathering strong evidences.
"This is a high-profile gun-for-hire group... you can see that the planning is good," he said.
Maranan said they have yet to determine the motive of the suspects and as much as they want to finish the investigation, they don't want to pressure themselves.
"We want to investigate this thoroughly and gather enough evidence. We want to solve the case in a correct and proper way, we don't want to skip any details," he said.
Meanwhile, Malacanang and the Philippine National Police both "strongly condemns" the attack against Espino.
"We condemn this felonious act as we believe that any unjustified killing has no place in a civilized society like ours," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo guaranteed that police are on top of the situation and will spare no effort in finding the perpetrators and finding the motive for the crime.
The PNP said Police General Oscar Albayalde has directed the PRO1 to immediately launch manhunt operations to arrest the suspects, expedite the investigation, and file criminal charges to give justice to the victims. Ella Dionisio/DMS