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Hunt for Habitan slay suspects still on

DAET, Camarines Norte—The killing of Bicolano gold trader Ronnie Habitan is still under investigation, Camarines Norte Provincial Police Office Director Senior Superintendent Harris Fama told BICOL STANDARD in an interview this afternoon.

Ronnie Habitan
Contributed photo
Fama also confirmed that the Armando Catapia Command of the New People's Army (NPA) has already owned up to the killing.

'Untouchable'

In a statement posted online, the Armando Catapia Command called Habitan an "untouchable" in the town of Jose Panganiban.

They accused him of being a druglord and a protector of drug pushers in the towns of Paracale, Jose Panganiban, and Labo in Camarines Norte, and of forming a private army to intimidate competitors in the gold business.

He also owned high-powered rifles, such as an M4, M14, KJ9 and ingram, the same statement indicated.

Atimonan incident

It would be recalled that Habitan's name earlier came up in reports about the 2013 Atimonan incident as the person who tipped Supt. Hansel Marantan of alleged jueteng operator Victor Siman’s whereabouts.

He allegedly met with Siman in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte a few hours before the latter travelled to Quezon, where he and twelve other people were killed at a checkpoint.

In media interviews, Habitan had since denied being Marantan’s informant.

Gunned down

Now around two years after the Atimonan incident, it is now Habitan who was gunned down by ten men in camouflage uniforms at 9:10 a.m. on Monday at his house at Barangay Plaridel, Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte.

The suspected rebels identified themselves as members of the police who had come to arrest the gold trader.

They shot Habitan in the head.

Police responded to the incident immediately after receiving a report of the arrival of the armed men at the mining financier’s house.

The suspects, according to Police Chief Inspector Martin Ngadao Jr. disarmed them, saying that their only target was Habitan.

They also took with them the victim’s vault, along with two caliber .45 pistols before fleeing.

The gold trader was rushed to the Jose Panganiban Primary Hospital but was declared dead by the attending physician.

Meantime, Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar of the Philippine Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion reported having found 11 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) around the area.

He said the IEDs were probably planted to delay the authorities from responding.

Three of the IEDs, Aguilar said, blew up, injuring Pfc Verson Alim, Pfc. Regala and Cpl. Malabanan.

As of the time of this writing, the police and the Army are still conducting a hot pursuit operation to locate the suspects.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM


NPA statement on Ronnie Habitan slay

Bicol Standard

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