PSG officer dead in Malacañang Park shooting

September 26, 2017 - 10:56 AM
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(photo from malacanang.gov.ph)

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 4 – 2:25 p.m.) The commander of the Presidential Security Group said an officer of the unit died in a shooting incident in Malacañang Park Tuesday morning.

Brigadier General Lope Dagoy said Major Harim Gonzaga’s wife, Sheila, a PSG member assigned as presidential escort, found him dead from a gunshot to the chest inside the quarters they shared.

He added the gun used was the officer’s own .45 caliber pistol.

The incident happened around 9:20 a.m.

Dagoy said Sheila Gonzaga had left their quarters to get something from the office and returned to find her husband dead.

Gonzaga, 37, was assigned to G3 (Operations), which handles the schedule of PSG activities.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s official residence, Bahay ng Pagbabago, is also located at Malacañang Park, which is right across the Pasig River from Malacañang Palace.

But Dagoy said the incident had no implications on Duterte’s security.

The PSG commander said there were no signs of foul play or struggle when he visited the quarters of Gonzaga but stressed he was leaving it to investigators of the Manila Police District to come up with definitive findings.

He also quoted Sheila Gonzaga as saying they had no major problems in their family although “sinasabi lang ‘yung workload niya madami. Normal lang naman sa amin ‘yun. Nasa PSG ka (she mentioned that he had a heavy workload. That’s normal for us. You are in the PSG).”

There were conflicting messages from the Palace on Duterte’s whereabouts. He spent the weekend in Davao City and was not seen in public on Monday. He was due to attend some events in Manila on Tuesday evening.

One Palace official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Duterte was not there at the time.

However, presidential spokesman, Ernesto Abella, could not confirm where Duterte was.

He said it was too soon to comment on the incident.

“It’s being investigated and the nature of the situation needs to be clarified,” Abella told a regular news briefing.

“Let this be sufficient at this stage,” he said.

Asked if the Palace was concerned, Abella said: “Of course it’s a matter of concern but we need to clarify what it’s all about.”

Duterte is notoriously unpredictable and often causes confusion with his schedules and time-keeping. Every week he spends long weekends in Davao City, starting on Friday or even earlier.