Philippine cops unmasked as hitmen in killing: Report

MANILA • Two Philippine police officers are to be charged with murder after being unmasked as motorcycle-riding hitmen who shot dead a local woman, said the authorities.

The policemen were wounded and arrested after a shootout with local police last weekend as they fled the scene of the crime in the central island of Mindoro, an official police report said yesterday.

Loaded handguns, a wig and a face mask were among items recovered from Inspector Markson Almeranez and Senior Inspector Magdaleno Pimentel, it added.

Clad in civilian clothing, the two suspects allegedly shot dead a 51-year-old woman on Sunday outside her home in Gloria, a rural town in Mindoro about 170km south of Manila, according to the police report.

Police gave chase, unaware of the suspects' identities.

The authorities said the motive for the killing was unknown.

Almeranez was at the time the police chief of Socorro, two towns north of Gloria, while Pimentel belonged to another Mindoro police unit, said the report.

The two suspects are under police guard at a local hospital and have been removed from their posts, the police statement said.

They are to stand trial for murder as well as attempted murder for shooting at the pursuing police, the report said.

The shootings occurred as Philippine police wage a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has left about 2,300 people dead since President Rodrigo Duterte began his six-year term on June 30.

The figure was provided by Philippine police to Reuters on Wednesday and is much lower than an earlier estimate of 3,600.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2016, with the headline 'Philippine cops unmasked as hitmen in killing: Report'. Print Edition | Subscribe