Oriental Mindoro massacre suspect, an ISAFP agent, surrenders to policemen
POSTED: Thursday, April 10th, 2014
CALAPAN CITY – A civilian agent belonging to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), who was tagged by a witness as one of five suspects who massacred members of a family in a remote town in Oriental Mindoro last March 30, has surrendered to authorities, police reported over the weekend.
Oriental Mindoro Police Director Sr. Supt. Ronaldo De Jesus reported to MIMAROPA Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Director Dennis Peña that the said the suspect, identified as Mark Anthony Cepeda, gave himself up to Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino, Group Commander of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) in Camp Eldridge, Los Baños, Laguna.
“He is an active member of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces and one of the suspects in the multiple murder case last March 30 in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro,” De Jesus stated.
Cepeda and four others allegedly barged into the house of a farmer in Sitio Tubigan, Barangay Labonan and shot dead Hector Saulong; his son Ricric, 25; daughter Stephanie, 23; and two-year-old Prince Clarence.
The murder was witnessed by Hector’s wife, Josephine, who survived because she was inside the bathroom when the suspects shoved into their house on that fateful day. Investigators initially believed the killing was a result of a dispute over land ownership.
According to De Jesus, suspect Flores was identified by Josephine as one of those who served as “lookouts,” along with a certain “Alex.”
De Jesus told newsmen that Cepeda’s superiors have coordinated his surrender with police authorities in Oriental Mindoro and he has sent operatives to pick up the suspect who faced charges of multiple murders.
“I sent Insp. Anthony Ramos, chief of the Bongabong Municipal Police Station, to fetch Cepeda,” De Jesus said, adding “The suspect availed of his right to a preliminary investigation and he signed a waiver of detention and agreed to remain under the custody of Bongabong police station pending the result of the (criminal case) proceedings.”
Police are looking into the connection between this week’s massacre and the killing of the Saulong couple’s eldest son David in 2013. A friend of “Alex” and Flores, identified as Reymero Maligo Jr., is a suspect in that incident.
De Jesus said Flores is denying participation in the crime, although the latter admitted he and the victims are relatives. “Kilala niya po dahil magkakamag-anak sila. Hindi niya inamin na nandoon siya sa mismong lugar ng insidente. Ang sinasabi niya po nasa Batangas siya, (He know the victims because they are relatives while at the same time, he did not admit he was on the area at the time of the crime because was on Batangas.)” De Jesus stated.
The police official also said another possible motive in the incident was the murder of David, who was known to suspect Cepeda and Alex, and they were said to be amicably settling with Hector to let go of the first case.
Hector reportedly refused the settlement offer and that was probably where the crime started, De Jesus said.
The other suspects were still at large and police operatives have been sent to track them down, De Jesus assured the victims’ relatives, one of whom Angel Saulong, former provincial administrator and currently executive assistant of Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso V. Umali, Jr. (By JUANCHO R. MAHUSAY )