Citizens fighting crimes

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 - The Philippine Star

“General, what’s happening to our country?” This was the famous quote of the late former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez while he was being wheeled to the hospital’s emergency room when he was nearly killed by assassin’s bullets in a July 1982 ambush.

The words of Pelaez reverberated last Monday when a civic-minded citizen bravely tried to shoot a photo — by mobile phone — a crime incident taking place in broad daylight in busy EDSA in Mandaluyong City. The Twitter user uploaded the photo showing four vehicles at full stop in the middle of EDSA while at least four men in civilian clothes were shown pointing their guns at those on board the Fortuner.  

But since the photo was taken by chance and while moving on the road, police authorities claim they could not make out the car plate. 

When I first saw the Twitter post late in the afternoon after this was re-tweeted by Sen. JV Ejercito, I immediately instructed Cecille Suerte Felipe, our reporter based at the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, Quezon City to check the incident. Although the scene of the crime is just a few kilometers away from  PNP headquarters in Crame, the police authorities were clueless about the incident.

The incident would not have merited national attention had not The STAR reprinted it the next day with scant details, except for the Twitter post.

The next day, a witness interviewed by TV5 claimed he saw the incident and heard the armed men commanding the driver of the Fortuner to alight from the vehicle. The witness said the driver looked Chinese and was dragged to the back of the vehicle while the other gunman took over the driving.  

By sheer luck, perhaps, the incident was caught on closed circuit television camera (CCTV) installed along EDSA. Unfortunately, according to Mandaluyong City police chief, Senior Superintendent Tyrone Masigon, the video was purportedly blurred. Police investigators could not get clear images of the armed men and the plate numbers of their vehicles.

It could not be mistaken as any “shooting” for a movie or TV drama. But according to police authorities, nobody has gone to report the incident nor filed a complaint.

Clearly, something was terribly wrong when you see burly men with guns drawn suddenly emerge to stop cars.

As of this writing, police investigators have yet to determine if it was a carjacking, a kidnapping, a case of robbery, or what.

Nor could it be a legitimate operation by the police or agents of government because no agency has owned up to it.

So, it’s back to square one.

Also last Monday, earlier in the morning, Quezon City Police District Station 4 Chief Inspector Roderick Medrano was gunned down in a hale of bullets while driving his wife and two children to school. Armed men mercilessly strafed his car at the corner of Zabarte Road and San Diego Drive in Barangay Kaligayahan.

Medrano was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital and his wife and children luckily survived the attack. Apparently, the slain cop protected his wife and children from being fatally shot.

Also caught on CCTV, Medrano’s car is seen crashing into a wall after the strafing. After this, the gunman came closer and fired more shots just to make sure. Investigators recognized the faces of the gunmen because of their previous crimes on police file.

Two days later, four of the ten suspects in the ambush-slay of Medrano were arrested. The suspects were nabbed at different locations in Barangay Commonwealth in Quezon City where they are notoriously known to operate. The motive remains under investigation.

Perhaps, with Medrano being a high-ranking police officer, it did not take long for the PNP to crack the case. It turned out the suspects are members of a known gun-for-hire syndicate plying their deadly business in Metro Manila and elsewhere.

Chief Inspector Rodel Marcelo disclosed they are looking into the possible involvement of the suspects in the killing of Police Inspector Rodelio Dionco in June in Barangay Batasan Hills; the double murder of media men Bonifacio Loreto Jr and Richard Kho in July in Barangay Commonwealth; the killing of village watchman Roberto Marano in June in Payatas; and other murder cases and violent attacks in the vicinity of Commonwealth Market.

Meanwhile, we received favorable feedback from the Korean Embassy in Manila about the arrest of the suspects in the kidnapping and murder of Korean student Lee Ji Won last March. Korean Ambassador Hyuk Lee expressed appreciation to the PNP for the arrest last August 29 of the suspects. The 21-year-old Korean student was riding a taxicab when she was abducted and murdered by suspects who included the taxi driver.

The ambassador is also looking forward to the eventual arrest of the other suspects in the killing of another Korean national Bae Minju, a businessman who was killed while his car was being stolen by armed men last July 27. His wife was kidnapped but later released unharmed. The family driver was arrested for possible involvement in the crime.

The Korean ambassador met last month with PNP director-general Alan Purisima after at least nine deaths of Korean nationals who fell victim to crimes taking place in various parts of the country since January.

Last Wednesday, leaders of the Chinese-Filipino community sought formal audience with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II and PNP officials led by Purisima. They sought to highlight the 19 kidnap-for-ransom cases recorded so far in Metro Manila from January to August this year.

The Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) headed by its founder Teresita Ang See organized the audience with Roxas and Purisima in the Anti-Kidnapping Action and Prevention Forum. Speaking for the Chinoy community here, Ang See expressed concern on the increase in kidnapping cases, the latest of which involved the kidnap and murder last month of Chinoy businessman Benito Chao in Caloocan City.

Roxas, however, impressed upon them the fight against kidnappers and other criminals is not just the concern of the PNP but of every citizen.

Kayo ang boss ko,” P-Noy said. What say you, citizen?











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