PNP eyes suspect in Laoag radioman slay
by Cristina Arzadon
Laoag City (18 June) -- Police are now tracking a possible suspect in the killing of Laoag radioman Jovelito Agustin who was shot and killed on Tuesday night as he was heading home in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
Chief Supt. Constante Azares, Ilocos Police Regional Director, said Agustin's nephew Joseph, the eyewitness in the shooting, identified one Leonardo Banaag, a Bacarra resident, as the one who shot them on Tuesday.
A warrant of arrest has been issued against Banaag.
Banaag's companion, however, has yet to be identified. The two fled on board another motorcycle after the attack.
Joseph was riding in tandem with Agustin when the ambush took place along a national road in Barangay Barit this city. He survived the attack but Agustin died at the hospital more than three hours after the attack.
Azares said Banaag is a known close-in aid of newly-elected Bacarra vice mayor Pacifico Velasco.
Azares said a team has been formed to look for Velasco who is reportedly confined in a Manila hospital for health issues.
Investigators have reviewed previously taped programs of Agustin to draw more information on the persons who have been at the receiving end of the radioman's critical comments.
Agustin is known to have roundly criticized Velasco in his program.
"We need Velasco to shed light on these commentaries. We cannot link the vice mayor to the murder by mere association, it can not hold water," he said.
Pol. Supt. Sterling Blanco, Laoag City police chief, said Banaag has a standing arrest warrant in line with a previous case of illegal recruitment that is pending at the Ilocos Norte Regional Trial Court.
Velasco, a former Bacarra Mayor and provincial board member, ran as vice mayor during the May elections and won.
Velasco, who has made himself scarce and has been in and out of the hospital due to health concerns, is awaiting a final resolution of a Sandiganbayan decision convicting him of graft and corruption. The decision was elevated to the Court of Appeals and later to the Supreme Court for final judgment. (PIA) [top]