By Nestle L. Semilla |May 13,2018 - 10:18 PM

SCENE of the Crime Operatives (Soco) personnel check the bullet-riddled van of Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot and scour every inch of the section of the new Roro Maya Port in Daanbantayan town in the northern tip of Cebu where Loot and his family were attacked on Sunday morning, May 13, 2018. CDN photo/ Tonee Despojo


Four persons – two drivers, a nanny and a porter – were injured after armed men opened fire at the group of Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot and his family at the port area of the town

A pump boat carrying Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot and his family had just docked at the New Port Roro in Barangay Maya of Daanbantayan town on Sunday morning when it was met with a hail of bullets.

Two drivers and a nanny of Loot’s grandchildren, who were beside the mayor, were wounded. A porter standing nearby at the dock area was also

Loot, his wife Ma. Luisa and his daughter dropped to the ground while his son Luis covered his wife and two children aged 5 and 6 months old. The mayor’s stepson, Cebu Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura, embraced his wife and three young children aged 7, 4 and 1, to protect them.

After the attack, the five armed men, who covered their faces with bonnets and handkerchief, immediately boarded a white Toyota HiAce van and escaped.

The mayor, a retired police general, said he believed that the attack was related to the issue of illegal drugs being linked to him by President
Rodrigo Duterte.

Mayor Vicente Loot recounts to a police officer at the Daanbantayan Police Station details of the attack staged against him and his family at the town’s port area on Sunday, May 13, 2018 .

But his wife Ma. Luisa, who was the former mayor of Daanbantayan, said the slay attempt was politically motivated and might be the handiwork of their rivals in politics. She did not elaborate.

Ma. Luisa said she has asked the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) to step into the case and help them find the culprits, even as the Philippine National Police (PNP) has begun its probe into the incident.

Task force formed

Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) chief Supt. Robert Quenery yesterday directed the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) to conduct a thorough investigation into the slay attempt against Loot and his family.

He said a special investigation task force was also assigned to investigate the incident.

Additional police personnel were also sent yesterday to Daanbantayan, the northernmost town of Cebu province located 127 kilometers from Cebu City, to ensure that today’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections will be kept peaceful and orderly.

NBI-7 Director Patricio Bernales, meanwhile, said he would dispatch personnel to help in tracking down the perpetrators.

Drop to the ground

Loot and his family came from Malapascua Island, a resort island under the jurisdiction of Daanbantayan where they attended a fiesta celebration.

The pump boat chartered by the family had just arrived at the port at about 7:30 a.m. and was about to be tied around a mooring bitt when the people inside the boat were met with bursts of gunfire.

Apparently, the armed men knew that the Loot family was arriving and had already positioned themselves at the dock before the pump boat arrived, said Loot, quoting witnesses.

Three of the armed men had their firearms ready as they ordered the people on the dock area to drop to the ground, just as the pump boat boarded by the Loot family was about to reach the dock.

As the boat docked, the armed men fired at the pump boat and the mayor’s waiting vehicle before they rushed back to their own van and fled.
Wounded were drivers Arnel Rosario and Ruben Castaneda, nanny Jerlyn Rossel and porter Bernabe Ypsor.

Loot said he was not able to fight back because he was concerned about the safety of his family and minding his wounded drivers and the nanny.

‘Old colleagues’

Loot admitted that he had received intelligence reports that he might be in danger after he was linked to illegal drugs.

“There was no direct threats but was advised to be careful,” he added.

Loot said that he already had information about the people behind the ambush, adding that theattack might have been perpetrated by “old colleagues” who wanted to pin him down.

“I already asked assistance from my classmates,” added Loot, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1982.

Loot added that he hoped that the police would do their job and dig deeper into the incident.

“Because if they will do their job, they will find the truth (behind this incident),” he said.

He said he was confident that he did not do anything wrong and had been cleared by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on his alleged drug links.

Loot said he was asked to be careful following the attack made on businessman Wellington Lim last March. Wellington is the brother of Peter Lim, a
Cebu-based businessman also in President Duterte’s list of alleged drug lords.

The attack on Wellington, who had also been linked to the illegal drug trade in the past, resulted to the death of a security guard and the wounding of three others — another security guard and a German couple who just happened to be passing by the area when armed men strafed Wellington’s vehicle which was coming out from the parking lot of Infinity Bar KTV and Music Lounge along Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City, early morning of March 24.

Peter had said the perpetrators used high-powered firearms and vehicles usually issued to the Philippine National Police.

But Loot declined to say if the police were behind the ambush on Sunday, except to say he knew the people behind the incident.

“If what we got from the crime scene would match with what was taken from the crime scene of Lim … but I’m not pointing to anyone,” he added. /WITH CORRESPONDENTS ROSALIE O. ABATAYO AND BENJIE B. TALISIC

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