QCPD: Dead suspect in attempted ambush was a police officer

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 13) —The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) confirmed that the suspect killed in a failed ambush early Tuesday morning was a police officer.

The motorcycle-riding suspects -- who were identified as PO1 Mark Ayeras, John Paul Napoles and a still-unknown third accomplice -- attempted to ambush lawyer Argel Cabatbat while he was riding a black Mitsubishi Montero Sport at around 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Cabatbat said Napoles sped past his vehicle and tried to fire at him and his companions on EDSA-East Avenue northbound in Quezon City.

"Yung isa, nung tumingala na ako, nakita ko sumubok bumunot, magpaputok," he said. "Kaya lang na-out-of-balance siya kasi medyo mahirap 'yun eh. Nung tumumba siya, nasagasaan namin."

[Translation: When I looked up, one of them tried to pull out a gun and shoot. However, he lost balance. When he fell, we accidentally ran over him.]

Meanwhile, Cabatbat and his companions chased Ayeras and the third suspect, who were riding another motorcycle.

Exchanges of fire took place until Cabatbat rammed the second motorcycle, after which the  Montero flipped over after the collision.

Ayeras was declared dead in the hospital, while Napoles is now in stable condition. However, the third suspect managed to escape.

Cabatbat said the failed assassination could be related to a case that he handles.

"Merong development na kung saan yung related sa kaso ko, may pinatay, so I took that as a sign that there is a credible threat against me," he said.

[Translation: There's a development in the case I'm working on, which involved a killing, so I took that as a sign that there is a credible threat against me.]

QCPD Director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar said in a Tuesday press briefing that they are still investigating whether or not Ayeras was hired as hitman.

"Kasi kung titingnan mo, probably, pwede talagang gun for hire siya kung titingnan natin ang anggulong ito," he said.

The QCPD said Ayeras has been absent without leave since August 2017. He was last assigned in the Regional Public Safety Battalion of the Metro Manila Police.

"'Pag pulis nainvolve sa illegal activities, definitely malaking balita 'yun," Eleazar said. "This is one example, kaya nga we're continuously doing this internal cleansing for us to get rid of undesirable elements in our police force."

[Translation: When police officers are involved in illegal activities, that's definitely big news. This is one example, which is why we're continuously doing this internal cleansing for us to get rid of undesirable elements in our police force.]

Police recovered a .45-caliber pistol from suspect Napoles, while a 9-millimeter-pistol was taken from Cabatbat's vehicle.

Cabatbat said he does not own the car or the gun that was used during the shootout with the suspects.

"In fact, I bought that car for my father," he said. "Kaya lang nung araw na 'yun, ako ang gumagamit. I remembered may baril doon. That's why I reached for the compartment."

[Translation: In fact, I bought that car for my father. But on that day, I was the one driving it. I remembered that there was gun there.  That's why I reached for the compartment]

Napoles is now facing frustrated murder charges, while victim Cabatbat and his companions may also face illegal possession of firearms charges