Road rage suspect: Arrogant cyclist provoked me
Ghio Ong (The Philippine Star) - July 31, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Vhon Martin Tanto, the suspect in the road rage killing in Quiapo, Manila, yesterday admitted he went overboard in killing cyclist Mark Vincent Garalde last Monday.

Tanto was presented to the media by lawmen led by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa after he was caught in Masbate and brought to the Manila Police District (MPD) to face murder charges.

Tanto said what provoked him to shoot Garalde was the victim’s aggressive attitude.

Tanto said he was about to turn right at P. Casal street from Vergara street when Garalde suddenly darted out from Nepomuceno street.

“I honked at Garalde to know if he was okay when he told me I was too arrogant on my driving and even cursed me,” Tanto told reporters.

“We had that fistfight after that heated argument,” he said.

The fight stopped when Tanto got a black eye and became weak after Garalde headlocked him.

Garalde then offered his hand to Tanto as a gesture to end their fight. Tanto, however, told Garalde to remove his bicycle leaning against his car, saying this might scratch the paint of his brand new vehicle.

Geralde then blurted out: “Yabang mo. Basagin ko pa salamin mo eh (I might even smash your windshield).”

Tanto said the remark made him want to get even with Garalde. He got his pistol and confronted Garalde, then shot him several times at close range.

One of the stray bullets hit 18-year-old Rocel Bondoc.

After the incident, Tanto said he drove straight to Baliuag, Bulacan to visit his brother.

He then left for Aritao, Nueva Ecija to meet is brother-in-law Jonathan Leaño, a fellow Army reservist.

Tanto said he gave his car and his firearms to Leaño. “I told him to give them to police in case trouble comes his way,” he said.

Lawmen recovered Tanto’s red Hyundai Eon car in Aritao.

Tanto took a bus to Manila. He called ahead to his wife Annesha to meet him in Cubao, Quezon City from where they would take a bus to her hometown in Milagros, Masbate to keep her safe.

“Their lives were in danger as my wife saw suspicious people roaming near our house,” he said.

‘Forgive me’

Tanto, sporting a black eye, asked for forgiveness from the families of Garalde and Bondoc.

He said he did not mean to kill Garalde but only got infuriated by the victim’s attitude.

His wife Annesha also pleaded for forgiveness, saying she plans to talk to the Garalde family for a possible settlement.

But Garalde’s mother Malou insisted that any arrangement would never bring back the life of her son.

“Even if we say I am angry at him, would my son be brought back to life even if I kill (Tanto)?” she said.

Malou and Garalde’s wife Rei Eleazar-Garalde were thankful for the speedy capture of Tanto, saying it was an answered prayer.

Dela Rosa presented Tanto to the media and advised the suspect and the motoring public to always practice deep breathing to calm down.

Dela Rosa even offered to teach Tanto boxing. “You got fuming mad at him (Garalde) then challenged him to a fistfight, but turned out you are not good at it,” he told Tanto in Filipino.

Tanto was arrested by combined police and Army intelligence operatives at his wife’s hometown in Milagros, Masbate on Friday.

The 36-year-old Army reservist went into hiding for four days after authorities had identified him through the conduction sticker of his car.

Tanto, however, claimed he had no intention of evading arrest but he also admitted he had no immediate plans to surrender to the police, fearing he might end up summarily executed.

Tanto insisted he surrendered before the barangay chairman of Bangad in Milagros, Masbate with the help of his brother-in-law, also an Army reservist.

“My brother-in-law coordinated with our comrades in the (Army’s) 1301st Community Defense Center,” Tanto said.

MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel

presented the .45 pistol allegedly used by Tanto in killing Garalde.

The murder weapon was turned over by Leaño, who also surrendered Tanto’s car with the conduction sticker MO3745.

Police said Tanto will be charged with murder and frustrated murder before the Department of Justice. – With Victor Martin

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