By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) yesterday urged the members of the Epogon crime group to surrender and assured them of their safety.
This comes after last week’s murders involving two alleged Epogon crime group members in the cities of Bacolod and Silay.
NOCPPO spokesperson, Police Lt. Abegael Donasco, revealed that since June 2020 up to this year, the crime group’s leader, Francisco Dela Cruz Epogon, had already been arrested, while four alleged members have been murdered.
Donasco said it is possible that the Epogon group may have either encountered and engaged in a conflict with another crime group operating in the province, or there may be in fighting from within the group itself.
It is also possible that illegal drugs may be the reason behind the murders, Donasco said.
The NOCPPO spokesperson appealed to the crime group members to surrender, assuring them that they will do their best to keep them and their families safe.
“They may do it anonymously by just proceeding to their nearest police station, by the time na susuko sila we can give them the proper security para hindi ma reveal yung profile nila,” Donasco said.
She also made a similar plea to other crime and drug groups to do the same, as they are all being closely monitored and aggressively targeted for police operation.
On Thursday last week, 55-year-old Jose Estaniel, an alleged Epogon crime group member, was killed outside his home in Barangay Handumanan, Bacolod City as he was celebrating his birthday.
Estaniel’s murder was followed on Friday by Arnold Rivera, who was shot dead at Hacienda Malinao in Silay City’s Barangay E. Lopez. Rivera is also allegedly a member of the Epogon group.
In February of this year, 25-year-old Eddie Epogon was killed after he opened fire at police officers who were trying to serve his arrest warrant in Sipalay.
Aside from illegal drugs, NOCPPO said the Epogon crime group is believed to be responsible for several high-profile robbery cases in Bacolod City, such as the robbery and murder of Belgian-national Nolens in June 2020, as well as the robbing of the house of Dr. Carlitos Orola, brother of city councilor Bart Orola and former city administrator John Orola./DGB, WDJ