Gunmen on bike strike anew, slay another ‘drug personality’

RELATIVES of Ernesto Regalado Jr. cry over his body after he was gunned down at Jalandoni Estate village in Lapuz, Iloilo City afternoon of July 19, 2019. (Contributed photo)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

MOTORCYCLE-riding gunmen in Iloilo City are back from a brief hiatus.

Unsurprisingly, they gunned down another drug personality who surrendered through Oplan Tokhang.

Just like in previous gun attacks perpetrated by motorcycle-riding suspects (MRS), the latest incident happened in broad daylight, with the presence of eye witnesses.

The victim, 45-year-old Ernesto Regalado Jr., of Barangay Alalasan, Lapuz district, was driving his tricycle when the gunmen repeatedly shot him at Jalandoni Estate village, Lapuz around 2:30 p.m. of July 19, 2019.

Footages from the village’s closed circuit television (CCTV) camera did not clearly show how he was repeatedly shot. But the footages did show the suspects speeding away from the crime scene.

As expected, the suspects could not be identified because they were wearing crash helmets.

Police Major Mark Evan Salvo, La Paz police chief, and responding police operatives brought Regalado to West Visayas State University Medical Center where he was declared dead on arrival.

He suffered injuries on his head, chest, abdomen, and arm.

Salvo confirmed that Regalado surrendered through Oplan Tokhang in 2017 but completed the community-based drug rehabilitation program.

The victim’s family told police officers that they were not aware of any threats on Regalado’s life.

“For now, we still don’t have suspects or persons of interest,” Salvo said on Sunday.



The suspects always get away with murder.

For the past 10 months, several MRS killings were already recorded.

Almost all of these incidents targeted drug personalities, especially those who surrendered through Oplan Tokhang.

Before Regalado, latest MRS killing targeted Allan Salario, 51, who worked as a survey aide of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Iloilo province.

The incident happened 5:45 a.m. of June 6, 2019 near the victim’s temporary shelter at Metropolis, Barangay Tagbac, Jaro district.

Salario’s killing is unlike previous incidents because the gunman was alone and the victim was not involved in illegal drugs.

Prior to Salario, MRS killings hit an incumbent village official.

Barangay Kagawad Joel Obregon, 61, had just alighted from his motorcycle around 6:55 p.m. of April 2, 2019 and was about to enter their house at Barangay Pali-Benedicto, Mandurriao, Iloilo City when gunmen peppered him with bullets.

Just like in other cases, both assailants were wearing crash helmets.

At the advent of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Obregon’s name was allegedly listed as a protector. He went to the police station but not to surrender through Oplan Tokhang.

Obregon, instead, denied his involvement in illegal drugs. Until now, his assailants are still unidentified.

Prior to that, 40-year old Lhuil Clemente was gunned down while driving his motorcycle at the busy street of Mabini at City Proper district.

Clemente surrendered through Oplan Tokhang after the Molo Police Station classified him as a high value target (HVT) level 1.

Before Clemente, a double murder incident also happened Jan. 4, 2019 in Mandurriao.

The incident killed Mercedes Nava, 66, a resident of Mejorada Street, Barangay Oñate-de Leon, Mandurriao, and Erwin Fontillas, 42, of Barangay Airport, Mandurriao.

Of the number of MRS killings since September 2018, the case of Nava and Fontillas was the only incident where police was able to identify the alleged suspects.

Police arrested brothers Julius and Roy de los Reyes, security aides of Councilor Plaridel Nava.

Nava, who lost in his vice mayoralty bid, is Mercedes’ cousin. Both victims were not involved in drugs.

Another MRS killing is that of Nestor Piagola, 33, of Barangay Zamora-Melliza, City Proper, Iloilo, who was killed near the Iloilo Terminal Market at the busy street of Rizal in Barangay Rima, City Proper district on Nov. 24, 2018.

Just like previous victims, Piagola was also linked to illegal drugs.

He was a Tokhang surrenderer while his father is a convicted drug personality and is now serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

Four days before Piagola was killed, a retired policeman was gunned down at Barangay Villa Anita, City Proper.

Ronaldo Alag, who held the rank of Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) before retiring from the PNP, was peppered with bullets in broad daylight.

Marvin Vasquez, 34, of Zone 3, Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao, was also peppered with bullets at Barangay Taft North on Nov. 7.

Also, a barangay tanod who surrendered through Oplan Tokhang was gunned down in broad daylight at Barangay Calubihan, Jaro, Iloilo City on Oct. 5.

Neil Resma, 38, was washing his motorcycle around 9:15 a.m. when two motorcycle-riding persons approached and shot him with a handgun.

On Sept. 7, two Tokhang surrenderers were killed in a span of 10 hours.

Riding-in-tandem gunmen also sprayed Rolando Puda and Don Azucena with bullets.

Azucena, 39, was killed by still unidentified suspects in Barangay Calumpang, Molo, Iloilo City at around 9:25 a.m. He died on the scene from multiple gunshot injuries on the body and head.

Meanwhile, Puda, 41, was killed near his house at Barangay Ingore, La Paz.

Four days later, a tricycle driver was also assassinated around 5 p.m. at Barangay Tacas, Jaro District.

Gerardo Mamarion, 25, was riddled with bullets several meters away from their house