Predawn attack leaves 7 dead in Rizal
Cops link killings to drug tradeBy Kristine Felisse Mangunay, Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer
A couple who were on the police watch list for their suspected involvement in the illegal drug trade ended up dead along with five of their friends after two men barged inside their house Monday morning in Rodriguez, Rizal, and shot them.
According to the police, the victims had just come from a drinking spree when they decided to stop by the couple’s house at Phase 1F in Barangay (village) San Jose for a drug session at 1 a.m.
“Suddenly, two men who were wearing black jackets and bull caps barged in and opened fire on them,” said Superintendent Don Bait, Rodriguez police chief. Two other men remained outside the house to serve as lookouts.
The 40-year-old owner of the house and his wife, Webb, and Alma Santos, died on the spot along with Joshua Tuazon, 16; Judy Ann Severo, 16; John Michael Gardose, 18; Roberto Talagtag, 18; and Darmo Rivera, 20. Each victim had been shot more than once, police said.
The couple’s two daughters aged 10 and 13 were asleep in another part of the house when the shooting broke out. Both were unhurt.
Scene of the Crime Operatives later recovered from the house at least 20 casings from .40-cal. and .45-cal. firearms.
They also found bottles of liquor, plastic sachets that contained what was believed to be methamphetamine hydrochloride, or “shabu,” and drug paraphernalia.
Although there were reports that the shooting may have been carried out by a vigilante group, Bait said they strongly suspected that it was “drug-related.”
“We are still investigating but we have a strong feeling it has [something] to do with drugs,” he added.
He explained that Webb Santos was on the municipality’s drug watchlist and had served time for drug pushing, according to a relative.
“The AIDSOTF [Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force of the police] also confirmed to us that [Webb] was on their target list,” Bait said.
“According to the neighbors, it seemed the victims knew their assailants. They heard no commotion or screaming from the house but just a round of shots and after a few minutes, another round,” he added.
None of the victim’s neighbors, however, came out of their houses for fear they too would be killed.
“One of the [gunmen] had shouted, ‘Don’t meddle if you don’t want to get hurt,’” Bait said.
The couple’s house, made of concrete blocks, was on a government relocation site, referred to by Rodriguez residents as “sub-urban.” The victims used to live in Tondo, Manila, until they moved to the area.
Senior Supt. Rolando Anduyan, Rizal police director, meanwhile, said that they have identified the gunmen and their cohorts based on descriptions given by a witness.
However, he refused to name them as this might hamper follow-up operations. At the same time, he confirmed that the motive for the killing had something to do with the drug trade.