GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 Feb) – Police authorities in Sultan Kudarat province have created a special task group that will spearhead the investigation on the massacre of four members of a family in Isulan town last week.
Senior Supt. Rex dela Rosa, Sultan Kudarat police director, said Wednesday they have activated the Task Group Debarbo to facilitate the speedy resolution of the killing of the entire Debarbo family in Barangay Sampao in Isulan town last Feb. 20.
“This is to ensure a more focused investigation and operations in connection with the case,” the official said in a radio interview.
He said the task group is composed of personnel from the Isulan municipal police station, Sultan Kudarat Police Provincial Office and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Sultan Kudarat.
The Debarbo family was heading home aboard a motorcycle at past 9 p.m. when they were waylaid by unidentified gunmen at a portion of Barangay Sampao, which is about two kilometers away from the town proper of Isulan.
Police said the victims, who died instantly due to multiple gunshot wounds, had just attended a birthday party in another village when the incident happened.
The victims were identified as couple Rey and Reynalie Debarbo and their children Catherine Faith, 14 and Karen, 8, all residents of Leonora Subdivision in Barangay Kalawag, Isulan.
The Debarbo patriarch is a pastor of the Fundamental Baptist Church denomination and also owns a small business in the area.
Dela Rosa, who heads the task force, said they are currently evaluating several leads regarding the incident based on accounts from a witness and relatives of the victims.
He said a witness, who was only identified as a former resident of Barangay Tamontaka in Cotabato City, surfaced several days ago and volunteered some information regarding the incident.
The witness initially tagged at least two persons as behind the incident, he said.
He said the suspects, who are still at-large, were identified as Muhammad and James Sangki, residents of Leonora Subdivision in Barangay Kalawag 2, Isulan.
Dela Rosa said an earlier search on the residence of the suspects yielded eight empty shells of a caliber .45 handgun and 5.56mm shells of an Armalite rifle, which resembled the type of firearms used during the ambush.
The official said they are currently processing the digital facial composites, formerly cartographic sketches of the suspects.
“But we can’t make any conclusion regarding the case. Right now, we’re still validating the initial information that we gathered and we’re continually looking out for other possible witnesses,” Dela Rosa said.
Meantime, a group of pastors of the Fundamental Baptist Church denomination in Sultan Kudarat province urged Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to look into the killing of the Debarbos and ensure the speedy resolution of the case.
Pastor James Gabao, one of the group’s leaders, said they have brought the matter to Roxas’s attention through a letter addressed to his office.
“We’re rallying behind the Debarbo family in seeking justice for the victims and the speedy resolution of their case. Rey (Debarbo) is a pastor and had not been involved in any incident or matter that would warrant these senseless killings,” he said.
Gabao said they were so far satisfied with the actions taken by police authorities regarding the case and their group has been also cooperating with the ongoing investigation. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)