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Mayor's son among slain armed men in alleged Quezon shootout

by Gemi Formaran

LUCENA CITY - A deeper investigation into the alleged shootout incident on Thursday that left two men dead in Tayabas City is about to be conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after it turned out that one of them was a son of a Quezon mayor.

Sariaya Mayor Mercelo Gayeta said he already sought assistance from NBI-Quezon head Dominador Villanueva and asked him to do a separate investigation on the killing of his son Christian, 22 and his driver Christopher Manalo, 38.

Gayeta also asked the bureau to have the victims reautopsied by its forensic investigators headed by Dr. Antonio Vertido. The two have already been autopsied by PNP- Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) after the incident.

Prior to the alleged shootout, gasoline pump attendant Michael Necesito, 20, of PTT Gasoline Station situated at Brgy. Baguio in Tayabas City reported to Tayabas police station thru phone that two pistol- armed men harassed him.

Necesito said that the suspects riding in tandem on a motorcycle arrived at the station PTT to gas up around 4:00 a.m.

But when he was asking the duo for their payment, Necesito said one of the suspects pulled a pistol and asked him to drop flat on the ground. He alleged that one of the suspects even fired his pistol before leaving the gas station.

Upon learning of the incident, Quezon police director, Senior Supt. Osmundo de Guzman said elements of Tayabas police station under Supt. Mark Joseph Laygo quickly reacted. He said Laygo alerted his men manning a Police Assistance Center checkpoint in Brgy. Calumpang who promptly responded.

Minutes later, De Guzman said the responding policemen spotted the suspects while traversing along the stretch of the provincial road at said village.

He said the cops blocked the road with their patrol car and tried to stop the approaching suspects.

“But according to Laygo, the suspects quickly opened fire at the cops prompting then to return fire triggering a shootout that eventually resulted in the duo’s death”, said De Guzman.

He said a calibre 45 pistol and a cal. 22 pistol with several magazines fully loaded with bullets were recovered by the lawmen and identification cards of Manalo.

It was already late afternoon when the police discovered that Manalo’s unidentified companion was Gayeta, the only son of Mayor Gayeta.

Prior to the incident, the young Gayeta was frequently seen accompanying his father in his activities almost every day.

In a phone interview, Mayor Gayeta told this writer that he smells something fishy on the incident saying he knows his son very well, prompting him to seek assistance from the NBI.

“Not because he is my son. In the first place, he’s already dead. I’m seeking a reinvestigation to be done by the NBI in order to determine what really transpired”, said the mayor.

For his part, De Guzman said he is morally convinced that what happened was a legitimate police operation and that the policemen did not commit any abuse.

But he said the policemen involved in the incident are open and willing to be investigated anytime.