By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
INVESTIGATORS on Sunday theorized that the men who shot and killed a National Irrigation Administration (NIA) contractor and his companion in Barangay Canitoan on Saturday were robbers who planned the attack well.
Authorities said they were working to identify the gunmen.
Capt. Jason Sto. Domingo, Bulua police station commander, said the motorcycle-riding assailants, attacked the victims while the KIA Bongo light truck they were riding in stopped.
Sto. Domingo said the still unidentified the suspects shot Wilmer Apostol, 44, and his companion Bryan Retchie Campugan, 26.
“It appeared the suspects were looking for something inside the truck before they left the crime scene,” he said, adding one of the gunmen was seen pulling out a bag from the truck’s front seat.
Sto. Domingo said Apostol’s wife told police the victim did not bring a large sum of money when he went out that day, but someone close to Apostol was able to confirm he brought cash with him.
Another witness said the money inside the bag was meant to be pay the contractor’s employees’ salaries.
“We were also told they (victims) just came from a cockfight in Barangay Pagatpat and that he (Apostol) just bought a cement mixing machine,” he said.
Police said both victims were from Bukidnon. Apostol came from Valencia City, while Campugan was from the town of Kalilangan.
According to Sto. Domingo, Apostol, who was an engineer, was a contractor for the NIA in Valencia.
Quoting initial reports from Bulua police investigators, Cpl. Divina Palma said operatives were speaking to Apostol’s employees to determine their whereabouts at the time of the shooting.
Palma said it was possible that the suspects were familiar with the route pattern of the victims, adding that investigators were now profiling Apostol’s workers.
She said Bulua police operatives believed the suspects have not yet left Cagayan de Oro.
A copy of the CCTV footage showed a white car ahead of the victims’ vehicle made a brief stop before speeding off giving the gunmen time to shoot at the truck’s passengers.
Lt. Fullgen Ragmac of the Scene of the Crime Operatives said they were able to recover four fired bullets and nine spent casings from the crime scene.
Ragmac said the gunmen appeared to be professional killers as they shot the victims multiple times.
Eyewitnesses said Apostol was still breathing after the suspects left but he did not reach the hospital alive.
Sto. Domingo said Apostol succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds while Campugan was hit in the face.
“[The shooting] looked planned. The suspects waited for them,” he said, adding the attackers expected them to pass that way at the exact moment.
He said they are also looking at the possibility that the ambush could be due to grudges Apostol had against some personalities.