Confessed gunman surrenders, tags Daraga Mayor Baldo in Batocabe slay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 4) — A former militiaman surrendered on Friday, admitting his role as the main gunman in the killing of AKO-BICOL party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe.

Henry Yuson surrendered to the Army in Sorsogon on Thursday then was turned over to the police because of a standing arrest warrant over a rape charge.

Philippine National Police Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde presented Yuson to the media in Camarines Sur.

The self-confessed gunman profusely apologized to the family left behind by the solon, while explicitly naming Batocabe's could've-been political rival Carlwyn "Awyn" Baldo in the May 2019 polls as the brains behind the killing.

"Gusto ko mag-sorry po sa pamilya ng Batocabe. Napag-utusan lang, nabayaran lang na ipapatay si Congressman Rodel Batocabe ni Awyn, Mayor Baldo," he said.

He revealed the reason why Baldo hired six people to kill the congressman.

"Gusto ni Mayor Awyn Baldo na siya ang permanenteng makaupo sa Daraga para maging mayor kasi may pangako siya sa amin na tuloy-tuloy ang kabuhayan namin, nagsasahod kami sa kanya," Yuson said.

He said he did not receive payment for the killing of Batocabe after his fellow hired killer took all the money. He said he wasn't initially aware that the plan was to gun down the solon.

The police also said it has custody of Jerwin Babor, the alleged driver of the getaway motorcycle used during the ambush that killed Batocabe and his security aide on December 22, 2018. Four out of six suspects are in police custody.

The gun-for-hire team was composed of 6 paramilitary personnel and former communist rebels, the PNP said.

The PNP on Thursday revealed the names of those allegedly involved in the lawmaker's killing based on the testimony of suspect Christopher Cabrera Naval, who surrendered to the PNP Intelligence Group on December 30.

The police said Naval told them about plans to assassinate Batocabe as early as August 2018. Baldo allegedly offered them P5 million to kill Batocabe in September 2018 and gave Naval P250,000 for the team to purchase guns and motorcycles for the assassination. His accounts coincided with those of Emmanuel Judavar, another conspirator in the case who also reportedly backed out from the assassination attempt.

Cases of double murder and six counts of multiple frustrated murder were filed before the provincial prosecutor's office of Albay against Baldo and members of the gun-for-hire group.

"This case, we considered solved but not closed. Why? Some of the suspects are not yet arrested," Albayalde said on Thursday.

Baldo on Thursday refuted the police's allegation that he is the main culprit behind the killing of his would have-been rival for the Daraga mayoralty race in 2019. He maintained his innocence over the lawmaker's death, saying he is just being used as a "convenient scapegoat."

"I assert my innocence. Let us not forget that while I am being used as a convenient scapegoat, those who are truly responsible for the crime remain free and blameless. I am an easy target but that does not make me guilty of the crime," he said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said administrative cases have been filed against Baldo before the Ombudsman for his preemptive suspension, saying the case against the official is "very strong."