By FROILAN GALLARDO
THE gunmen in the Dec. 2 assassination of University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines president Ricardo Rotoras attempted to kill him days before they finally gunned him down on Saturday.
National Bureau of Investigation-Region 10 director Sally Hans Barbaso said the suspects attempted to kill Rotoras earlier, and they were there in front of his house with the unsuspecting academic largely unaware of their presence.
Barbaso said failing in their first attempt, the killers came back on Saturday and carried out the gun attack on Rotoras.
He said they based this finding when they learned the killers built two ladders made of the coconut lumber that they used to scale the fence of Golden Glow Subdivision in Upper Carmen where the victim lives.
“They were already in front of the house of Rotoras nights before the actual killing,” Barbaso said.
He said the killers left the first ladder beside fence, which a watchman found and took away.
Barbaso said the suspects made another ladder which they used in scaling the fence in Dec. 2.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the NBI to conduct a parallel investigation to catch the killers of Rotoras.
Mayor Oscar Moreno and the Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines offered P2 million for any information that could lead to the arrest of the killers.
The murder of Rotoras, a respected academic, has sent shockwaves across Cagayan de Oro and the country’s academic community.
Barbaso said the murder of Rotoras was “well-planned and funded” executed by professional killers.
He said they are eyeing at least four suspects — two gunmen, a lookout and the driver of the getaway vehicle, a pick-up truck.
Barbaso said they are also looking into the possibility that another suspect, probably a lookout, was there to observe when Rotoras would leave the Christmas party of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines.
“They studied his movements and probably made an attempt of his life earlier. When they failed, they made another attempt,” he said.
Barbaso declined to say what other leads the NBI was pursuing for fear it may jeopardize their investigation.
Police authorities said they are investigating four witnesses who saw two gunmen fleeing the scene.