Motorcycle-riding gunmen shot dead a retired Philippine police general with known ties to several national politicians, authorities said Friday, as officials announced the creation of a task force to probe the ambush.
Retired Brig. Gen. Marlou Chan was in his pickup truck with his driver at an intersection in Calasiao town in northern Pangasinan province on Thursday when four men on board two motorcycles approached his vehicle and opened fire, police said.
“The suspects were already seen going around the area well before the crime happened,” police regional director Col. Redrico Maranan told reporters, citing witnesses and footage captured by closed-circuit TV camera near the crime scene.
“We are positive we will be able to solve this. We will give justice to the victim,” Maranan said, adding that he has formed a task force to look into the case.
Chan’s driver, who survived the attack, rushed him to a local hospital with the help of a bystander, but hospital authorities declared him dead upon arrival.
Chan suffered bullet wounds to his neck, chest and other parts of the body, police said.
Chan served as the province’s police chief in 2012, replacing an official who was relieved from his post for allegedly protecting operators of an illegal yet highly lucrative numbers game called “jueteng.”
The former general’s killing took place amid recent controversies involving top police officers.
Last year, national police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde was accused of recycling illegal drugs seized by his former subordinates, an embarrassing setback in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Albayalde resigned his post in October and authorities filed graft and drug charges against him.
Duterte launched the crackdown on drugs shortly after taking office. He vowed to dump the dead bodies of drug dealers and addicts in Manila Bay and turn its waters red with their blood. The president has since publicly urged police to shoot drug suspects.
Official figures indicate that more than 6,000 people have been killed in the crackdown during the past three years, but rights groups often cite a much higher death toll.
While there have been some high-profile cases of politicians with drug links who were gunned down or arrested, the majority of those killed were poor people in urban areas. Despite the crackdown, drug smuggling has continued, according to officials.
In 2016, just a few months after Duterte was sworn in, a South Korean businessman who lived in the northern Philippines, was kidnapped and was later killed inside Camp Crame, the police headquarters.
It was later found out that the South Korean’s abduction was orchestrated by rogue elements of the police, several of whom were arrested.