Hired killers target four more in Ajuy – Rojas

ILOILO City – Suspect Dennis Cartagena has named Vicente “Bulldog” Espinosa as the one who ordered the assassination of Ajuy, Iloilo Vice Mayor Ramon Rojas Jr., said Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Jett Rojas.

Citing his conversation with Cartagena yesterday, Rojas said assassins have been hired, too, to kill him, Ajuy, Iloilo Mayor Juancho Alvarez and two other Sangguniang Bayan members of the town.

From Butuan City where he had been hiding for almost two onths, Cartagena was shipped back to Iloilo yesterday.

At the press conference at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol, Atty.


Edmund Guillen of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) advised Cartagena not to issue statements for the moment.

But Board member Rojas had a private conversation with Cartagena, a resident of San Enrique, Iloilo. He said the suspect promised to tell everything he knows about the plot against the vice mayor.At the press conference, Board member Rojas appealed to Espinosa. He reminded him that they are cousins and have families, too.

Espinosa could not be reached for comment as of press time. But he had already previously denied having any hand in the death of Vice Mayor Rojas, who was shot to death on May 22, 2008 in Sitio Casamata, Brgy. Central, Ajuy, Iloilo around 5:30 a.m. while doing his daily early morning walking exercise.

Board member Rojas said Cartagena told him that Ajuy Sangguniang Bayan members Pepe Baterna and Pepe Dumayao have been targeted, too.

According to Cartagena, said Rojas, other guns-for-hire were offered the job to have him killed but that these mercenaries backed out; it wasn’t clear why.

“They were offered P50,000 cash and a .45 caliber,” said the Board member.

Rojas said politics may have something to do with the assassination plots.

A 10-man police team led by Iloilo Police Director Senior Supt. Ricardo Dela Paz fetched Cartagena from Butuan City where he had been hiding for almost two months.

Atty. Edeljulio Romero, Espinosa’s legal counsel, said they are “assessing the situation.” He refused to comment further “as long as we do not hear personally (Cartagena) speaking…we have no basis to react.”

Romero said Cartagena may have been “influenced.”

A day after his arrest in Butuan City on August 30, Cartagena was interviewed by DyFM Bombo Radyo. In that interview, he denied his participation in the Rojas slay case. He also denied knowing Espinosa.

Iloilo Police Director Senior Supt. Ricardo Dela Paz said yesterday that the police will be re-filing the murder complaint against Espinosa.

Espinosa was originally included in the murder case filed against Cartagena, Cordero and another suspect, Lindsey Buenavista. But the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office junked the case against him for lack of probable cause.

Before yesterday’s press conference, a young lawyer caused a stir at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. Atty. Christopher Espera insisted on speaking to Cartagena, whom he said was his client. However, policemen securing Cartagena blocked him.

Cartagena himself rebuffed Espera.

Espera, it was learned, is an associate of Romero.

Espera told reporters yesterday that he personally went to Butuan City and talked to Cartagena allegedly upon the request of a certain relative of the suspect. But Espera claimed policemen spirited Cartagena away./PN – Iloilo

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