By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) is probing another brutal killing of a man linked into illegal drugs here.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Pico, public information officer of BCPO, said Virgilio Lopez, 35, of Barangay Guinhalaran, Silay City, Negros Occidental, was found dead at Barangay Cabug past 10 p.m. last Thursday.
Lopez succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds on the head.
“He was shot at close range,” Pico said, adding that three vehicles were seen in the area by some witnesses.
Pico said a piece of cardboard with the statement “Gudbye shabu. Welcome heaven or hell. HVT ako. (Ang Kawatan sa Sebucao, kamo sunod. Ang gapanglambat driver, kamo sunod. Ara kamo Cabug, kilala na kamo. – Mga Adik),” and a sachet of suspected shabu worth P48,000 were found near the victim at the crime scene.
Lopez’s hands were tied with a blue cloth and nylon. Police also recovered 11 shells of .45-caliber ammunition.
Pico said the victim was allegedly part of the Divinagracia drug group, one of the six drug groups operating in the province.
But Pico said they need additional information to prove Lopez’s links to the group.
Meanwhile, Police Lieutenant Jonito Pastrana, head of Police Station 9, said the victim was considered a high-value target because of his previous record in the illegal drug trade.
“Malawig man ini siya nga na preso tungod sa drugs,” he added.
Pastrana said Lopez survived an attempt on his life in August 2018 when he was attacked by gunmen allegedly due to a failed illegal drug transaction.
Pastrana said they are looking into grudges and drug-related deals as possible angles behind the killing.
Lopez has pending cases for illegal possession of firearm and illegal drugs, he added.
On the other hand, Pico said Lopez’s case was the second incident this month and probably the third since December. All incidents victimized persons with links to illegal drugs and were summarily executed in similar fashions.
But he cannot ascertain if the same perpetrators were behind the cases.
“We cannot just say that the same perpetrators were behind the killing because we rely on the evidence as the basis in the investigation,” Pico said.
Earlier this month, Richard Tutop, 33, of Barangay 3 here was allegedly abducted and killed by unidentified assailants at Barangay Mansilingan here last January 22.
Barangay 2 Kagawad Romeo Canlas Jr. was also gunned down by unidentified gunmen at Barangay 26 here last January 11.
On December 3, 2019, 66-year-old Ontao Sacar, a native of Marawi City, was also abducted and brutally murdered.
Police will conduct cross-matching on the recovered bullets from the three incidents to determine if the same firearms were used in the crimes.