BALAOAN, La Union – A police officer who was tagged in the assassination of former Balaoan Vice Mayor Al-Fred Concepcion of this town pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in Balaoan, La Union on Wednesday.
SPO1 Dario Naval Cahigas is one of the suspects behind the ambush-slay on November 14, 2018 of Concepcion and one of his aides and injuries to the victim’s companions including his daughter Balaoan Mayor Aleli Concepcion.
Cahigas faces two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder. Mayor Concepcion was with her father when armed men sprayed bullets on their vehicle on the way to the municipal hall.
The former vice mayor and his aide, identified as Mike Ulep, died. Mayor Concepcion and three others were injured during the attack.
Regional Trial Court Branch 34 acting Presiding Judge Asuncion Fikingas-Mandia administered the arraignment of the suspect at 8:30 a.m. in Balaoan, La Union. Cahigas pleaded not guilty of all the charges filed against him.
Cahigas’ counsel was not present and moved for the resetting of the case again, but the lawyer of the Concepcion family opposed the motion and argued that it is prohibited under the continuous trial rule.
The court ordered the accused to be assisted by a representative from the Public Attorney’s Office.
The pre-trial was scheduled on November 27, 2020.
Mayor Concepcion had earlier asked the suspect to divulge the identity of the mastermind and other conspirators in the crime.
“I hope and pray that Cahigas divulges what he knows about our ambush and reveals the identity of his co-conspirators for his own peace of mind,” the mayor said in an earlier statement.
Police reports said Cahigas, a PNP member assigned at the Regional Police Holding Assistance Service of Police Regional Office 1, voluntarily surrendered on August 18, 2020 during the execution of warrant of arrest issued by Balaoan Regional Trial Court Branch 34 Presiding Judge Marita Bernales Balloguing.
Mayor Concepcion said the cases filed against Cahigas came nearly two years after the ambush. She said several others who were responsible for the gruesome crime remain at large.
There is a standing reward of P10 million for anyone who can provide vital and verifiable information as to the identity of the other perpetrators and the masterminds behind the ambush, she said.