MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Four suspected remnants of the Dominguez carjacking syndicate, supposedly including the one who burned car dealer Emerson Lozano, were killed in a shootout with lawmen and operatives of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) in Meycauayan City, Bulacan yesterday morning.Senior Superintendent Fernando Mendez, Bulacan police director, said only one of the slain suspects was identified as Nestor Samonte, 32.
But HPG director Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said one of the three others had the same build and complexion of Napoleon Salamat, who was wanted for the 2011 killings of Lozano, fellow car dealer Venson Evangelista and Lozano’s driver Ernani Sensil.
Espina said another member of the Dominguez syndicate, Rolando Talban, tagged as the group’s triggerman, could be the one who managed to escape on a motorcycle along with a companion at the height of the shootout at around 1:45 a.m. at Muralla Park in Meycauayan.
The syndicate leaders, brothers Raymond and Roger Dominguez, are locked up in jail and being tried on car theft with homicide charges for the killing of Evangelista.
Told about the shootout, lawyer Oliver Lozano, the slain car dealer’s father, said, “They have been killing their victims like chickens. Now they died like rats.”
“That’s what I have been saying that while you can ran away from the law, you cannot escape karma,” he said.
In his testimony, state witness Alfred Mendiola said it was Salamat who burned the young Lozano.
For his part, Evangelista’s father Arsenio said, “I also believe he was the one who burned my son.”
Espina said elements of the HPG Task Force Limbas responded to a report on a group of men detaching and replacing the license plate of a gray Isuzu D-Max.
As the lawmen were approaching the scene, the suspects opened fire, triggering the shootout. Two of the suspects died on the spot, and the two others in a nearby hospital.
A check showed that the license plate being attached to the Isuzu D-Max – NOA-153 – was for a Honda Civic stolen in Cabuyao, Laguna.
Seized at the scene of the shootout were an Ingram machine pistol with live bullets, three caliber .45 pistols with bullets, another license plate (NHI-625), an ATM card of one Pablo Baguiwet, a copy of Salamat’s release order dated Nov. 4, 2010, and a driver’s license of one Eduardo Lopez who matched Talban’s description.
Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo ordered the police to hunt down the killers of a female witness against the Dominguez brothers.
Robredo issued the order after receiving a report that Cristina Bruan Rojas was shot dead in a passenger jeepney yesterday after attending a court hearing in Malolos City on the car theft case against Raymond Dominguez. – With Reinir Padua, Ric Sapnu, Cecille Suerte Felipe - By Dino Balabo (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)