BACOLOD CITY (PNA) – The suspected leader of a notorious robbery group in this city was killed by a policeman, whom he tried to rob, past midnight on Monday in Barangay Villamonte here.
Senior Superintendent Francisco Ebreo, Bacolod police officer-in-charge, confirmed the death of 32-year-old Johnnie “JR” Villarete, head of the Villarete gang, in a press conference Monday afternoon.
“With the neutralization of Johnnie Villarete, we believe that the cases of robbery and motornapping in Bacolod will be reduced,” he said.
Around 12:30 a.m., Police Officer 2 Eric Pableo, a personnel of the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group based in Bacolod, and his female companion were cruising along C. L. Montelibano Drive-Baloyo Street on his motorcycle when two men, one of them carrying an alleged M4 rifle, waylaid them.
They ordered the policeman and the woman to board their Mitsubishi Adventure vehicle.
When Pableo stepped down from his motorcycle, he fired at the assailants.
The armed man, later identified as Villarete, fell and died immediately. His companion, Rustan Pecuerdal, tried to escape with the woman’s bag on board the policeman’s motorcycle, but he collided with their own vehicle.
A bystander brought him to a hospital, where he was arrested.
A third suspect, Niño Abonales, 20, who was all the time inside the assailants’ vehicle, later came out and escaped.
He was arrested by operatives of Police Station 4 in a follow-up operation around 9:30 a.m.
Ebreo said investigators later confirmed the armed robber was Villarete, but he was not carrying a real firearm. It was an airsoft gun, which was a replica of an M4 rifle.
“Police Officer 2 Pableo didn’t know it and he just thought of defending himself,” he added.
Ebreo said that Pableo told the assailants that he was a policeman, but they ignored him and Villarete pointed a gun at him.
Based on records of the Bacolod City Police Office, Villarete was facing four robbery cases and two drug cases before his death.