‘Persons of interest’ in Serenio slay seek protective custody

By: Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Police Colonel Henry Biñas, director of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), said yesterday that the two “persons of interest” tagged in the killing of Ricky Serenio here last Aug 31, 2019 sought protective custody from the police.

Allan Bustamante, 30, of Barangay Mabuhay 2, Toboso, Negros Occidental; and Joemar Dumip-ig, 30, of Barangay 14 here made the request through their lawyer after they were discharged from the hospital last Wednesday, Biñas said.

The request was already forwarded to Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 for approval.

Biñas maintained that Bustamante and Dumip-ig are still not considered suspects in the killing since no evidence can confirm their involvement in Serenio’s assassination.

He added that the two persons of interest still did not provide information about how they sustained their gunshot wounds when they were found at the back of a residential village in Barangay Pahanocoy right after Serenio’s shooting.

Earlier, the BCPO provided security for Bustamante and Dumip-ig at the hospital to protect them from threats, since they considered Serenio’s murder case sensitive.

Serenio was one of Negros Island’s top suspected drug personalities and a self-confessed bagman of Berya drug group here.

“Investigation is still ongoing until we could find more evidence linking them in the murder case. We are also continuously looking for Serenio’s two alleged companions in the vehicle during the incident,” Biñas said.

Meanwhile, Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, PRO-6 spokesperson, told Daily Guardian by phone that the Office of the Chief Directorial Staff at the regional headquarters already received the request of Bustamante and Dumip-ig but she has yet to know if it was approved.

Malong said if the two persons will be placed under the protective police custody, they will either be provided with security based on the availability of police personnel or they will be placed in a safe house.

“It will depend on the situation,” she added.

Police Major Rocky Desear, chief of Calatrava Municipal Police Station, said Dumip-ig’s brother was involved in the shooting of a councilman of Barangay Ilaya last month.

Desear said the Dumip-ig brothers are natives of the town but they are already residing in Bacolod.

When asked for their background, Desear said they received reports that they are allegedly involved in gun-for-hire activities but they do not have criminal records in the town and they probably operate in other areas.

But Desear said the report is still subject for verification.

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) also previously associated Bustamante with a certain “Kabug-ang” criminal gang, and is also one of the persons of interest for various shooting incidents in Toboso town.

Bustamante was also previously arrested in a buy-bust operation in November last year and was released through plea bargaining.

Nocppo is also closely working with the BCPO to help them in the investigation since police recovered notebooks and bankbooks containing possible clients on the alleged illegal drug trade of Serenio in his car during the incident.

Last Saturday, Serenio was driving a car when he was gunned down by three unidentified men on a motorcycle along Araneta highway at Barangay Pahanocoy.

He made headlines in 2016 after he tagged some policemen, media personalities, politicians, and other law enforcers as protectors of illegal drugs, which resulted to the relief of more than 40 policemen from the defunct Police Regional Office (PRO)-Negros island region.

He was arrested in Talisay City in January of the same year for grave coercion, illegal possession of firearms, and explosives, but had been out on bail afterwards.

(Photo Courtesy of BCPO)