Senior Supt. Rudy Lacadin, director of the Tarlac provincial police office, said the slain suspects were members of the dreaded Igorot/Bonnet Gang and the Bumatay Group, which had joined forces for the Tarlac operation.
It was the first time that they operated in Tarlac, he said.
He said that a confidential informant told the police that the group was planning to rob the house of businessman Hilario Legaspi, 58, at Sitio Sto. Rosario, Baculong, Victoria, last December 21.
Acting on the tip, about 50 members of the Tarlac provincial police office, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Victoria municipal police station had been deployed to await the robbery attack.
At around 7:30 p.m., the suspects gained entry into the Legaspi compound by destroying the padlocks on the steel gate. They were met with bullets and a firefight ensued.
Two suspects died inside the Legaspi compound while the rest of the group fled aboard three vehicles—a Besta van and two Baja motorcycles.
Police identified Lucio Guinayen Jr. as one of the two fatalities. The other remains unidentified as of press time. Recovered from them were two caliber 38 revolvers.
The police pursued the rest of the group.
Less than three hours later, in Barangay Burgos in Sto. Domingo town in Nueva Ecija, the fleeing suspects were cornered and fought back.
As a result, six more suspects were killed. Police identified the four as Genaro “Boy Bumatay” Pascual, the alleged leader of the combined group; Peter Lomibao, of San Jose, Nueva Ecija; Judy Ferrer, of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija; and Alfredo “Janggo” Melano, of Umingan, Pangasinan.
Two have remained unidentified as of press time.