By Aaron Recuenco
A dispute over a construction project at the Minalungao Eco-Tourism Park in Nueva Ecija sparked the killing of General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote. Police investigators said the alleged mastermind is a manager of a construction firm in the province who reportedly paid the gunmen P25,000 for the hit.
Chief Supt. Amado Corpus, director of the Central Luzon regional police, said the two gunmen who were arrested in Camarines Sur last week named the alleged mastermind.
Bote was shot in the driveway of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Cabanatuan City last July 3 as he left the premises aboard a vehicle.
“They (gunmen) were paid P25,000 for it,” said Corpus.
Corpus said the alleged mastermind is an acquaintance of one of the arrested gunman, Florencio Suarez whom he contacted to liquidate Bote.
“Aside from the judicial confession, the confirmatory forensics on the firearms seized from Suarez and (Robertlyn) Gumatay during their arrest proved to be used in the killing of Mayor Bote, and therefore made them credible,” said Corpus.
The vehicle which Suarez was driving when they were arrested were monitored through the CCTVs and tailed until the arrest was made last week.
Based on the link diagram presented in yesterday’s press briefing at Camp Crame, a total of eight suspects are believed to have participated in the killing.
One of them was a lookout who asked NIA guards permission to use the comfort room prior to the Bote slay and was seen leading the gunmen towards the escape route.
There were eight suspects, two of them are unidentified, including a man possibly higher than the alleged mastermind, said national police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde.
“We are not discounting the possibility that someone higher could have ordered and financed the killing,” he added.
Director Roel Obusan, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said the alleged mastermind and Bote who are both into construction business reportedly had a falling out over projects in Nueva Ecija.
The last straw reportedly had to do with the P96 million Minalungao Tourism Convergence Park, an eco-tourism project located in General Tinio town where Bote is the incumbent mayor. The firms of Bote and the alleged mastermind reportedly bidded for the project but the national government awarded the project to the alleged mastermind’s firm.
What pushed the alleged mastermind to eliminated Bote, Corpus said, “according to the suspects, ginigipit daw ni Mayor Bote yung kumpanya (of the alleged mastermind). These claims are already in the judicial confession of the suspects,” said Corpus.
Insiders said a local chief executive could delay the implementation of the project by making it hard for the contractor to get the necessary permits.
Delays in the implementation of projects would mean trouble for the construction firm since it may be fined for the delay and would even result in the cancellation of the project.
The investigation disclosed that one of the getaway cars used in the Bote ambush entered the compound of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) chapel in Cabanataun City. The same car Suarez was driving when he was nabbed in Camarines Sur.
Obusan said the INC played a key role in the solution of Bote’s murder.
Obusan said local INC leaders provided the identities of some of the suspects in the course of the probe.
“They (INC) are of big help in our investigation. Although most of the suspects are members, they said and assured us that they will not tolerate such act,” said Obusan.
Albayalde said they received surrender feelers from the alleged mastermind.
A case for murder will be filed today against the assailants.