4 cops serving arrest warrant killed in Kalinga

MANILA, Philippines – At least 4 policemen in Kalinga province were killed on Thursday, February 21, as they tried to serve an arrest warrant against a "top most wanted person."

According to a report from the Cordillera Regional Police Office, personnel from different Kalinga Police Office units attempted to serve a warrant of arrest against Willy Sagasag at around 7:30 am in Lubuagan town, Kalinga.

A shootout ensued between cops and Sagasag's group, resulting in the deaths of Police Officer 3 (PO3) Cruzaldo Lawagan, PO2 Juvenal Aguinaldo, PO1 Vincent Tay-od, and PO1 Charles Ryan Compas.

In a phone interview, Chief Inspector Carolina Lacuata, information officer of the Cordillera Regional Police Office, said Sagasag was also killed in the encounter.

Three other cops were critically wounded: Senior Inspector Eduard Liclic, PO1 Ferdinand Asuncion, and PO1 Ferdie Diwag.

In a police report, regional police chief Chief Superintendent Elmo Sarona said an undetermined number of people from Sagasag's group were wounded but managed to escape.

Crime investigators recovered 36 pieces of 5.56 mm cartridge cases from the crime scene, while one M16 rifle, one black rig, one long plastic magazine, 3 short and 3 long metal magazines, and 127 rounds of live ammunition for the M16 rifle were recovered from Sagasag.

Sagasag, the alleged leader of a crime syndicate, was facing murder, frustrated murder, frustrated homicide, and robbery charges. He had a P600,000 bounty on his head.

"[Sagasag] was also a subject of several police operations which did not succeed until this incident," Sarona said.

Sagasag was first charged with murder over the killing of village chairman Eduardo Wandaga and Magdalena Dacay in Tabuk City in 1995. He was arrested in 1998, but was able to escape prison.

In 2001, Sagasag was again arrested and detained at the Kalinga Police Provincial Jail.

He, however, was "rescued" by his group while being transported from Kalinga to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan via jeepney in 2002. As a result, two jail guards and a student were killed. – with reports from Raymon Dullana / Rappler.com