By: Jennifer P. Rendon
AMID unabated and unsolved shooting incidents perpetrated by riding-in-tandem suspects, the question remains: is a vigilante group behind these murder cases?
Unlikely, said Police Colonel Martin Defensor Jr., Iloilo City police chief.
“It appears that most of these murder incidents involved illegal drugs. For all we know, baka nagka-onsehan lang sila. It’s hard to establish the angle of the existence of a vigilante group,” Defensor said.
On top of that, a vigilante group usually makes known of their existence and the cause they are fighting for, he added.
“In this case, none. These murder incidents are likely to be perpetrated by bandits against persons who might have short-changed them,” Defensor said.
Just the same, the city police chief said they are looking into every angle of every case that happened in their area of responsibility.
The possibility of the existence of a vigilante group came up anew after another drug personality was killed late evening of Oct. 18, 2019.
Felix Argenal, 30, of Barangay Tacas, Jaro, was attending a birthday party at the neighboring village of Tabuc Suba when he was gunned down.
Argenal, who surrendered through Oplan Tokhang in 2017, was with some friends at the roadside garage of birthday celebrator Lino Londres.
At around 11:15 p.m., two motorcycles stopped in front of the garage.
Each motorcycles’ backrider alighted. One of them stopped in front of the garage while the other went near Argenal’s group.
Successive gunfire was heard after someone shouted for them to duck.
The two backriders, who were wearing masks, quickly boarded the motorcycles and sped off.
Argenal was then seen slumped on the pavement. He suffered wounds on his head, jaw, and buttock.
Police Captain Eduardo Siacon, Jaro police chief, said they learned of the shooting at around 11:20 p.m.
Responding policemen said they saw that Argenal was fatally hit on the head.
Relatives and witnesses did not rush him to the hospital anymore.
But Siacon later decided to still bring him to the hospital where he was declared dead.
Siacon said there are several possible motives for Argenal’s killing.
The victim is listed on Jaro Police Station’s watchlist of illegal drug personalities as a high value target (HVT) level 1.
He used to work for the group of Bonnie Prevendido, a nephew of slain drug personality Richard Prevendido.
But Bonnie is currently in jail for an illegal drugs charge.
Siacon said Argenal then worked for Ernesto “Erning” Bolivar, currently Western Visayas’ top drug personality.
But aside from illegal drugs, he was also involved in a frustrated murder case in 2015 where he was subsequently jailed.
Siacon revealed that Argenal was also the suspect in the killing of Allan Salario, 51, who worked as a survey aide of 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.
Aside from that, several residents claimed that Argenal was extorting money from a firm operating a cell site tower in Tacas village.
His mother admitted that she had her son jailed when he was just 18 years old.