In Roxas City: Odicta lawyer killed
Jennifer P. Rendon (The Freeman) - September 30, 2018 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — Controversial lawyer, 50-year-old Edeljulio Romero, is dead.

Romero, who rose to prominence after defending alleged drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr. and other drug-personalities, was gunned down around 12:40 p.m. of September 28, while having a lunch inside a cafeteria at Barangay Culasi, Roxas City in Capiz.

Just like Odicta, he was also killed near a port terminal. Odicta and his wife Meriam were killed by assassins as they disembarked at Caticlan Jetty Port in Malay, Aklan on August 29, 2016.

Romero, of  Barangay South San Jose in Molo district, Iloilo City, was with his common-law wife, Iris Tan, when gunned down. But at the time of the shooting, Tan was across the road transacting at a 2GO ticketing booth reportedly to buy a ticket for her and the lawyer for Manila.

Several witnesses saw the incident but all of them attested that the gunman “just went near and shot him (Romero) immediately” or without provocation. An elderly woman had even indulged in a brief chat with Romero shortly before he was killed.

Before eating at the roadside cafeteria, Romero and Tan arrived on board a tricycle. The woman claimed that Romero took off his “bullet proof vest” and wore a jacket instead. While he was eating, the gunman alighted from a vehicle, hid first at parked tricycles, and approached the lawyer at the back. The assassin then aimed a handgun on the back of Romero’s head and pumped several bullets.

The woman-witness said the gunman was small-built, wearing a blue shirt with a camouflage pair of shorts. He had companions, apparently serving as lookouts outside the cafeteria, and wearing white shirts. The witness said she was able to look at the killer and blurted at him in Hiligaynon, “Why did you shot this man?”

Immediately after the shooting, the three boarded on a waiting gray SUV, with no license plate, and left the scene. Superintendent Dante Tayco, Roxas City Police chief, identified the suspects’ getaway vehicle as a gray Nissan SUV.

A motorcycle rider, who was reportedly a member of the Maritime Police, even chased the fleeing suspects but failed to keep up with their speed.

Romero was brought on a tricycle to the Roxas Memorial Provincial Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. He succumbed to a gunshot wound on the back of  his head through and through in the middle of his eyes.

Romero was in Roxas City on September 27 to attend the court hearing of his client, Stephen Teves of Panay town, who was also facing a drug-related case .

Police Regional Office-6 Director, Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, said the suspects are “now the subject of a hot-pursuit operation by the Roxas Police force. “We are already conducting an investigation on this incident to identify and arrest those responsible,” he said.

Bulalacao also confirmed that Romero was considered a high value target (HVT) Level 3 drug personality. “We enjoin possible eyewitness to share information that may help in the ongoing investigation. We assure the victim's family that a thorough investigation is underway to arrest those responsible,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tayco said they would be gathering footage from closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to aid in their investigation.

After the death of the Odicta couple, Romero was rarely seen in public, and was reportedly staying in Manila. Other reports indicated he was in Palawan. On October 4, 2016, members of Molo Police Station conducted Oplan Katok at his house in Molo district of Iloilo City, where he turned over to the police several high-powered firearms and ammos.

On January 2011, a grenade was lobbed and exploded at Romero’s house. He initially thought it was just a pillbox bomb, but it turned out to be an M203 grenade launcher. The blast damaged the rear portion of his parked car and damaged a part of his garage. He said the incident could have been related to his work as a lawyer.

In the 2010 elections, Romero ran for Iloilo City councilor but lost.

IN ROXAS CITY:
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