Police battle gun-for-hire group believed to be behind the Reluya ambush but suspects escape
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Policemen from Cebu province engaged in a firefight a gun-for-hire group believed to be behind the ambush that wounded San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya and killed her husband and two others.
READ: Mayor survives ambush
The police team, led by Chief Inspector Christoper Rey Natnat, head of the Provincial Intelligence Brand (PIB) and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU), were out to serve an arrest warrant against Jerome Labitad in the mountain village of Kampo 4 in Talisay City when they were met with a hail of bullets fired by the suspects.
Nanat told Cebu Daily News Digital that Labitad has been identified as a possible suspect in the ambush of Mayor Reluya, who was on board her van with her husband Councilor Ricardo Reluya Jr., the president of the town’s Association of Barangay Councils, and four others when they were waylaid in Barangay Linao, Talisay City past 6 p.m. of January 22, 2019.
Natnat believed they were able to wound Labitad during the shootout.
In an initial report released at noon on Tuesday, January 29, Natnat said his team went to Sitio Crossing, Barangay Kampo 4 at around 9:30 a.m. to serve a warrant of arrest against Labitad for cases involving illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms, both of which were unrelated to the Reluya ambush.
He said the suspects sensed the presence of policemen in Sitio Crossing and fired first at the police team.
The exchange of fire lasted for about an hour but Labitad and two others managed to elude arrest.
Natnat said they already coordinated with the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) for the processing of the crime scene and the possible identification of the firearms that the suspects left behind. /bjo/elb
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