By Samuel M. Toledo, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
After sensing possible involvement of influential people behind the killing of Makati City engineer Nelson Morales last September 7 in Malinao, Albay, government authorities here led by the police formed “Special Task Force Morales”, tasked to launch a tactical manhunt of the suspects after they were confirmed to be members of a well-organized and heavily armed notorious gang operating in Bicol.
Superintendent Paulino Belga, Albay deputy police director for operations, said that Special Task Force Morales is composed of members from the Bicol regional police command down to the Malinao police force, and police intelligence personnel.
Belga said the task force shall conduct in-depth investigation of the crime as initial details probers dug up in the past seven days suggested that influential people could be behind the Morales’ killing as the five charged suspects, one of them already arrested and put to jail, appeared to be merely gun-for-hires.
“We are still establishing fully if the suspects are indeed ‘gun-for-hires only and had no personal transactions with the victim. If this is the case, we could say that there is someone else who might have paid Morales’ assailants,” Belga said.
The official also confirmed that the suspects belong to the notorious Concepcion Gang, who have members trained to carry out illegal activities, after the jailed suspect, Roderick Saysay Sarahan, is consistently refusing to answer the police’s tactical interrogations.
“Sarahan remained silent and was not giving our investigators any information about the killing and the whereabouts of his group. He is really trained not to squeal in case even caught by the law-enforcers,” Belga said.
Belga said the group leader, Gilbert Concepcion, who is reported to be a rebel-returnee who enlisted in the Army until he went on AWOL, was the suspect in killing his cousin and a number of land-owners in Albay.
He said the group,believed based in the far-flung village of Molosbolos in Libon, Albay managed to repulse two police-led attacks and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)initiated raid, aimed at arresting the gang leader in the past years.
“Our troops and that of the NBI were forced to retreat as the gang members managed to position themselves and maneuver strategically before the law-enforcers could take an offensive. In some attempts, arrived at their encampments,” Belga said, suspecting that local folks in the village who happened to be mostly the suspects’ relatives were feeding them advance info upon sightings of the government forces.
But officials vowed not to leave any stone unturned until all the suspects are arrested.
“Despite their being highly trained and being elusive, we will do every possible means to bring them to the fold of the law, adding that the Conception gang is also feared for its massive land-grabbing activities in remote villages.
Morales was shot dead last Sept. 7 by the suspects while going out of the St. Nicholas Chapel where he was a wedding sponsor with his sister, in Barangay Estancia in Malinao town.