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BIR official’s gunman falls

A suspect in the ambush slay of a Bureau of Internal Revenue official last month has been arrested.

Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar yesterday presented Allan Manalo, 43, whom they believe is a gun-for-hire.

Manalo is being accused for the fatal shooting of BIR Makati City Regional Director Jonas Amora last November 21 at 5:02 a.m. at the corner of Topside Road and C-5 Katipunan Ave. in Barangay Escopa 2.

He was positively identified by witnesses as one of two motorcycle riding suspects who followed Amora’s vehicle.

Manalo, who introduced himself as a member of the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit, has denied the accusations, claiming he had just finished training at the 59th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces.

Curiously, Manalo was initially arrested for indiscriminate firing in Barangay Batasan Hills last December 23. A concerned citizen called police who promptly arrested the armed troublemaker.

Aside from the .45 caliber gun, Manalo also yielded bullets and a hand grenade. Police said the .45 caliber was not the same gun that killed Amora.

During interrogation, police noticed the striking resemblance of Manalo with the artist sketch of Amora’s killer they released last November 24.

To confirm their suspicion, the QCPD invited witnesses who positively identified Manalo as one of two men who waited for Amora’s car outside the gate of Filinvest East subdivision. He was identified because he took his helmet off for a cigarette and coffee break.

Another witness from the crime scene in Barangay Escopa confirmed it was Manalo whom he saw taking off his helmet before shooting Amora.

Amora died on the spot while his driver Angelo Pineda sustained a bullet wound on the face and managed to drive himself to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

The suspects were caught in closed-circuit television footages tailing Amora’s car from his Filinvest East in Antipolo City.

While confirming Manalo’s claim, police said they have confirmed that the suspect was a volunteer barangay tanod employed by a councilor in Batasan Hills.

The councilor told Eleazar that Manalo had been on leave since November 3 for an errand in Laguna and had not reported for work since. Police withheld the identity of the councilor.

Eleazar said they also received reports that Manalo is a hitman and are validating the information.

The QCPD chief said they are now pursuing investigation on the driver of the motorcycle and the mastermind in the killing. “(We have yet to identify) What is the motive. But what we know that this gunman was hired to do this job,” Eleazar said.

Eleazar did not discount the possibility that Amora’s death was work-related since the late regional director had closed down a number of businesses in Makati.

The relatives of Amore were emotional facing Manalo after the briefing in Camp Karingal. They thanked the QCPD for arresting a suspect.

Pineda, meanwhile, was released from the QMMC two days ago.

Charges of murder, frustrated murder, and illegal possession of explosive and firearms are now being filed against Manalo. (VANNE TERRAZOLA)