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2 dead in police raids on 15 houses of clan

RAID YIELDFirearms, bullets and explosives found by police in the house of Noel Salcedo in Sara town, Iloilo province. —PHOTO FROM RADIO MINDANAO NETWORK

ILOILO CITY—The northern town of Sara has been placed on heightened alert following police raids on the houses of the town’s political kingpin, his families and allies that left two of his scions dead.

Police got reinforcements after they received text messages warning that a bomb would explode if anything bad happened to Neptali “Tali” Salcedo Sr., former Sara mayor.

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Senior Insp. Ascension Ortizo, acting police chief of Sara, said he believed that the threat came from the Salcedos.

Ortizo urged the Salcedos to accept the consequences of their past wrongdoing.

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“These are the results of their previous actions,” Ortizo said. “I have warned them but they never listened,” he said.

‘Overkill’

But in a Facebook post, Vice Mayor Neptali Salcedo Jr. said his family could not do anything to harm the town that they loved.

“Yes we are in grief and in sorrow for our loss,” said the vice mayor’s post.

“We have been robbed of justice and of due process. Everything is ‘overkill’, exaggerated, unfair yet we mourn in silence and leave it all to God,” he wrote.

He said the family was asking the people of the town to “stay calm.”

Former policeman Nerio “Ricky” Salcedo and his nephew, Nixon Salcedo Jr., son and grandson of Neptali Sr., were killed after they allegedly fought back when police raided their house in Sara early on Wednesday.

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The raid was part of simultaneous operations by more than 300 operatives who were out to conduct a search on 15 houses of Neptali Sr., his family members and allies in Sara and nearby towns on suspicion that they kept high-powered firearms.

UNLICENSED Police present to media some of the weapons and bullets recovered during one of at least 15 raids on the Salcedo clan’s houses in Sara. -PHOTO FROM RADIO MINDANAO NETWORK

Fatalities

Nerio died at Sara District Hospital while Nixon Jr. died on the spot due to multiple gunshot wounds.

Neptali Sr., whose family lorded over Sara and nearby towns, was not around when policemen swooped down on his house at the village of Poblacion Ilawod, about 100 kilometers north of here.

Recovered from his house were an M14 rifle, M16 rifle, Ultimax 100 311 rifle, 12-gauge shotgun, AK-47 rifle, three .45-caliber pistols and bullets.

His wife, incumbent Sara Mayor Ermelita Salcedo, was taken in by police for questioning but was released in the evening.

Sources close to Neptali Sr. told the Inquirer that the former mayor had already sent surrender feelers to Iloilo police officials.

Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, police director for Western Visayas, raised the suspicion that someone tipped off Neptali Sr. about the raid to allow him to escape.

Wheelchair-bound

Neptali Sr. is wheelchair-bound after his leg was amputated because of an unspecified disease a few years ago.

Bulalacao said police applied for the search warrant in Quezon City out of fear of the operation leaking out.

At least 14 search warrants were issued by Judge Angelyn Mary Quimpo-Sale, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 106 in Quezon City, for violation of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

“I don’t intend to offend the courts here but we wanted to make sure that there would be no leak of the documents that we would present when applying for a search warrant,” he said.

Operatives from the Iloilo provincial police office, 6th Special Action Force Battalion and Iloilo City police office Special Weapons and Tactics team served the warrants in simultaneous operations past 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

Armory

Neptali and an ally named in the warrants were also not around.

Police found a grenade, a .45-caliber pistol with bullets and a bulletproof vest in the house of Nixon Sr.

Recovered from the house of Noel were one .45-caliber pistol, one short and long magazine and bullets.

Police claimed that Noel, who had a pending murder case, led a group involved in theft of motorcycles.

Frank George “Jojo” Sanson, was also not around when his house in Estancia town was raided where authorities claimed to have found sachets of “shabu” (crystal meth), a digital weighing scale, a .45-caliber pistol, a holster, bullets and a bullet casing for a .45-caliber pistol.

Police arrested Nestor Diboso Arante after they found a .45-caliber pistol, a holster and bullets in his house in Banate town.

Police claimed that Arante supplied firearms to armed groups in northern Iloilo.

Police also raided the homes of six allies of Neptali Sr. but failed to find any firearm, ammunition, explosive or drugs.

Mountain of cases

They were James Balsomo, lawyer James Balsomo II, village chiefs Henry Ballume of Del Castillo, Rexie Paciente of Apdo and Jully Ballume of Anoring and Juanny Buhayan Demo, former village chief of Muyco.

The subjects of the warrants were suspected to be involved in drugs, gun-for-hire operations, maintaining private armed groups, murder cases in northern Iloilo as well as some robbery cases in President Roxas, Capiz province.

Bulalacao could not hide his disappointment over the possibility that the suspects had bgeen tipped off about the police operation.

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