By: Jennifer P. Rendon
HOW do you solve the problem of “riding-in-tandem” killings?
A year into the seemingly unabated killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding suspects (MRS), not a case involving 12 suspected drug personalities since September 2018 was solved.
And the number grows following the death of two more alleged drug peddlers gunned down in the past days.
Several theories were raised as to the motives for the killings.
But Police Colonel Martin Defensor Jr., Iloilo City police director, said they are looking at internal conflict between drug personalities in the city as possible reasons for the murders.
“When Dragon and Buang were killed, these drug personalities have lost a leader. May agawan ng teritoryo,” he said.
Dragon refers to Melvin Odicta, Sr., who was once dubbed as Western Visayas’ top drug personality and leader of the Odicta Drug Group.
The group used to be a formidable force in the illegal drug trade, until Odicta and his wife Meriam were gunned down on Aug. 29, 2016 at the Caticlan Jetty Port in Malay, Aklan.
Buang is Richard Prevendido who was killed, along with his son Jason, during a police operation on Sept. 1, 2017 at Landheights Subdivision in Barangay Balabago, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Aside from disputes over territories, there’s also internal rift because they were doubled-crossed in some drug-related transactions.
“It’s possible na sila-sila lang din ang nag-aaway,” Defensor said.
Aside from that, a source said that some police officer believed that a group could have been formed to run after drug personalities in Iloilo City.
“It could be part of the purging, as part of the campaign against illegal drugs,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Defensor noted that families of the victims, in most cases, were not keen on pursuing the cases.
“Some of them would no longer cooperate with our investigators,” he said.
TWO NEW CASES
The first of the two recent killings happened 8 p.m. of Aug. 16, 2019 at Barangay Taft North, Mandurriao district.
Mark Muller, 38, a call center agent residing in Cuartero village, Jaro, was repeatedly shot by suspected MRS.
Muller was on the list of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) as a drug user.
While he surrendered through Oplan Tokhang, he did not undergo the community-based drug rehabilitation program.
But village officials noted that Muller has no record of any wrongdoing in the barangay.
The incident also wounded Christopher Jinon, 32, of Barangay Bularan, Banate, Iloilo. He was rushed to Western Visayas Medical Center.
Police recovered 7 empty ammunition shells from the crime scene.
At 3 p.m. of Aug 17, riding-in-tandem gunmen also killed Robert Isubal, 43, of Barangay East Tomasa, Molo, Iloilo City.
Isubal, his wife, and siblings, were standing at their talaba (oyster) stall when a man wearing a black helmet approached and repeatedly shot him.
The gunman then boarded a motorcycle and fled.
Police recovered from the scene six fired ammunition shells and a bullet fragment.
Isubal was rushed to Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital but died due to gunshot injuries on his right eye, right portion of the chest, side of the body, and abdomen.
Isubal had just gone out of incarceration three days before he was shot dead.
In 2016, Isubal was arrested in a buy bust operation at the Iloilo Terminal Market in City Proper district, Iloilo City.
He was released after a plea bargaining agreement.