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Cavite shooter's 'accomplice' surrenders; Kawit police execs axed

Relatives of shooting victim Micaella Andrea Caimol light candles at the steps of her house in Kawit where she was gunned down by Ronald Bae on Friday. Bae killed eight people and wounded nine others before he was slain by police. (photo by Cheryl Ravelo, Reuters)
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE - 12:53 p.m.) The caretaker of Ronald Bae, whose shooting rampage killed seven people and wounded nine more before he was himself gunned down by police in Kawit, Cavite, has surrendered and claimed he had been forced by the gunman to help him in his rampage.

Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Joel Saliva, the town police chief, and his deputy, an Inspector Salazar, have been relieved from their posts over the incident. InterAksyon has learned that Saliva was on leave at the time.

John Paul Lopez, 27, a resident of Imus town, was apparently convinced by a relative to surrender.

In a radio interview Friday night, Lopez admitted reloading bullets into Bae’s .45 caliber pistol but claimed he had been threatened into doing so.

Bae went on his shooting spree in Barangay Tabon 1 Friday morning.

Two of those he killed were children.

Lopez said Bae was suffering family problems.

Police will determine Lopez's liability in the incident, said Senior Superintendent Alexander Rafael, Cavite police director.

Philippine National Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said: "We are investigating the level of his involvement, but definitely he faces criminal charges."

Should Lopez's claim he was forced into helping Bae prove false, Cerbo added, "he would be charged with many murders."

Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla, who said relatives led police to Lopez, doubted the suspect's version of events.

"He changed the clip three or four times as Bae broke into houses. He (Lopez) could have easily escaped," Remulla told radio station dzMM.

Police said Bae had been an elected member of the village council but left the community after being defeated when he ran for barangay captain in 2010.

Bae and Lopez began drinking and taking the banned stimulant methamphetamine on New Year's Eve, according to Remulla.

Frequent methamphetamine use can lead to anti-social or even psychotic behaviour, said Derrick Carreon, spokesman for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

"They may start seeing demons during withdrawal. You take it from there," he told AFP Saturday.

Methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" is the most commonly used narcotic by the nearly two million illegal drug users in the country, Carreon added.

Friday's shooting rampage followed the New Year's Eve deaths of two children by celebratory gunfire in Manila, which has triggered outrage and condemnation of the Philippines' poorly enforced gun laws.

There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines last year, with another 600,000 unlicensed weapons in circulation, according to police. (with reports from Agence France-Presse)