La Union assassination squad leader surrenders

BAGUIO CITY (July 27, 2021)— A former police colonel and alleged leader of a gun-for-hire group composed or rogue uniformed personnel in Northern Luzon surrendered to the Philippine National Police at Camp Crame on Monday afternoon.

Former police colonel Wilson Magpali, who is accused as the leader of the Magpali gun-for-hire syndicate, surrendered to the authorities, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar confirmed.

Eleazar said Magpali, accompanied by his lawyer, went to Camp Crame Monday afternoon. “Nagpakita siya kasi iniimplicate siya,” Eleazar said in a phone interview. The PNP chief did not provide more details on Magpali”s surrender.

Sources said Magpali turned himself in to police officials at 3 p.m.

Magpali, who is wanted for estafa issued by a Baguio City court, allegedly led a gun-for-hire group operating in La Union and other provinces in Northern Luzon.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the PNP Ilocos region to “get the head” of the Magpali gang which was reportedly hired by some unscrupulous politicians to harass or liquidate political rivals ahead of the 2022 elections.

The order was in response to the appeal of La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel who disclosed an alleged assassination plot against her and two other politicians in the province. She said catching the leader of the Magpali group “would lead authorities into the bottom of stemming the political killings in La Union way back in 2018”.

La Union police earlier uncovered the plot to kill a member of the House of Representatives and two mayors, following the arrest of several members of the notorious Magpali assassination squad, composed mostly of police and military scalawags, on June 23, 2021. Magpali was a dismissed police colonel who is now wanted for estafa.

Eriguel said the discovery of the plot frightened the people of La Union who fear that the 2018 violent killings may happen again. Eriguel, the primary target of the Magpali gang, is the widow of former Rep. Franny Eriguel who was slain in 2018. The two other targets are also allied with the Eriguels, according to the intelligence report.

Following President Duterte’s order, the Department of Interior and Local Government instructed the PNP to go after the Magpali gun-for-hire group. In a radio interview, DILG Undersecretary for external and legislative affairs Ricojudge Janvier M. Echiverri confirmed that the president issued the order to get the mastermind of the Magpali group which is allegedly composed of rogue policemen and soldiers.

Echiverri said the instruction was to go after the group in all areas where its members may have gone hiding.

Eriguel said the gun-for-hire group could be used by some power-hungry traditional politicians who do not hesitate to hire police and military scalawags in their bid to control power. She said she will soon file a resolution in Congress to call for an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the existence of the gun-for-hire group.

A police intelligence report said Magpali received a P2-million down payment to hatch the assassination plot which was discovered after several members of the gun-for-hire group were arrested on June 23, 2021 through a hot pursuit operation, following the killing of a farm caretaker in Barangay Ballogo, Bacnotan, La Union on June 22, 2021. The killing of the farm caretaker was believed to be a side contract as the gang was preparing for high-profile targets.



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