6 suspects now in custody
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Two more suspects in the killing of AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe surrendered to authorities on Saturday morning, police said, bringing the total of those in custody to six.
Suspects Rolando Arimado and Danilo Muella turned themselves in to police two days after supposed main gunman Henry Yuson surrendered.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said three other suspects are already in police custody namely Christopher Naval, Emmanuel Rosello, and Jaywin Babor.
The seventh suspect, alleged slay mastermind Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, is facing murder charges and has denied the allegations.
Albayalde in a statement said Arimado was tagged as a look-out and a back-up gunman in Batocabe's assassination on Dec. 22.
Muella, on the other hand, was identified as the suspect who purchased two .45 caliber pistols used in the murder.
Arimado on Friday afternoon arrived at General Camp Simeon Ola in Legazpi City, Albay after surrendering to authorities in Masbate.
Police information showed authorities negotiated with Arimado for three days before he surrendered.
Thea Omelan, ABS-CBN News
Batocabe was shot dead three days before Christmas after he attended a gift-giving event in Daraga, Albay where he was running as mayor.
His bodyguard was also killed in the incident, while several senior citizens who took part in the program were wounded.
PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said all of the suspects in custody have similar testimonies and named the same mastermind.
"They (suspects) gave their testimonies in separate locations but one thing that stood out during the investigation and interview is that they are only pointing to one mastermind," Durana told ANC on Saturday.
Both Yuson and the police have earlier tagged the reelectionist Daraga mayor Baldo as the "mastermind" behind Batocabe's slay.
Baldo allegedly offered P5 million to Yuson and the other gunmen to kill Batocabe. The mayor, however, allegedly did not give the killers the money after their group gunned down the lawmaker.
"We have a very airtight case against all the suspects...We are quite confident that we have solved the case," Durana added.
The Daraga mayor earlier denied the allegations.
"I assert my innocence. Let us not forget that while I’m being used as convenient scapegoat, those who are truly responsible for the crime remain free and blameless," Baldo said in a press conference on Thursday.
Murder charges have been filed against Baldo and the other suspects in Batocabe's murder.
--With a report from Thea Omelan, ABS-CBN News