Partly solved "drive-by" shootings

AS IT APPEARS - Lorenzo Paradiang Jr. -

The miffed City Mayor Michael Rama had brusquely demanded on the PNP to explain the then unsolved “drive-by” shootings, killing three and wounding seven, mostly minors. The shooting spree starting on February 4 at dawn in Guadalupe and Labangon, had sadistically been done by gray sedan-riding criminals in early twenties, so witness-victims recall.

The City Mayor succinctly had put it right, “Convince me why should I not be angry?” Indeed, why would Hizzoner hold his punches when for three weeks in running, with the criminals scot-free? And imagine the agonizing fear of the people at large, as anybody might be still outside his home.

Targets were in their early youth, usually staying late at the roadside, and usually drinking. Most victims belong to the notorious “Bloods” as first impression, and rival “Crips” gangs, both proud of their notoriety. The obviously “avenging” car-riding shooters used .9 millimeter and Cal.45 guns. Cops once tailed the gray sedan that left the cops behind. Incidentally, PNP Sr. Supt. Melvin Buenafe then assured Hizzoner, thus: “They (the PNP) are doing everything.”

Did “doing everything” include summoning and questioning the culprits since the police have already known them? If not, what did they mean by: “nailhan na”? No wonder, Mayor Rama, a lawyer with long public service since his City Councilor post, may be until now, is at the end of his patience, with no complete solution to stop the public menace. In pique, he remarked that the many motorcycles the City has given the PNP “have not helped in the arrest of the culprits.”

Senior Supt. Buenafe’s attempt to appease the victims and Mayor Rama was then inutile. “What is consoling, we don’t have ‘dinagku’ (crimes)pareha sa uban… robberies, bombings, kidnappings for ransom”… To him, “drive-by” shooting rampage is “consoling” compared to so-called “dinagku” crimes? Wow, that is senseless, even if it was uttered carelessly “without thinking.” So, killing at random in “vendetta” mode with no specific targets, but equally dangerous to others who might be around the youngster targets, could be “consoling?”

This paper’s editorial expressed the public’s indignation amid potential fatal danger, like, “bullets with no specific address,” to borrow a vulgarism. The editorial said aptly that of all shootings, this type is the more chilling. “While other shootings could be avoided, ‘drive-by’ shootings are different. They are chillingly more dangerous because they are so random. They can take place anytime, anywhere, and to anybody when least expected. Any crazy maniac with a gun and a vehicle, any vehicle, can just go on a rampage and start shooting.”

 One also recalls Chief Romeo Santander of the PNP Intelligence Branch quoted by TF, that they have the names of the suspects, and put under surveillance. When further queried on apprehension, he muttered that “nagpaabut lang sa go-signal for apprehension.” Now, now, what if the already known culprits would, meantime, choose to lie low, what happens then?

Not to twit the PNP, one disturbing news item in TF’s issue last January 23 this year, isn’t “consoling” to the public. The caption said that “PNP: Most Cops Can’t Shoot Straight” and “can not hit their target.” Is this the reason that despite being tailed twice and the suspects being known, the “drive-by” assassins were not then arrested or fired at? This alarming quote was that of PNP Deputy Director General Benjamin Belarmino who said that majority of the police are “bolo men” who fall below that of “marksmen” as the minimum level for shooters.

After three weeks scot-free, the “drive-by” gunman was arrested by the Cebu City police. At least, with his arrest and, hopefully, his three other cohorts would also be nabbed, the term “consoling” to the affected community, would be apt and proper. Thus, to obviate similar psychological panic, law enforcers have to be careful and tactful in their public pronouncements.

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