STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur— Motorcycle-riding gunmen on Friday afternoon shot dead a suspected pusher here even as police authorities intensified the drive against the illegal drug trade in the wake of the four-month deadline set by Gov. Claude Bautista for them to put a stop to it.
But it was not clear if the shooting incident that led to the death of Romeo Casiro Jr. was the work of antidrugs hit men, who were blamed in the past for summary executions of suspected drug personalities in the province, or by henchmen of rival groups.
Suspicions about the possible reactivation of the so-called Digos Death Squad (DDS) were raised after Davao del Sur police director Senior Supt. Ronaldo Llanera warned drug pushers their days were numbered.
But police authorities here never admitted the existence of DDS and instead claimed that it could be the result of intense rivalries among drug groups.
Llanera said Casiro was at the waiting shed outside Sitio Lawis in (village) Bato here when he was shot five times by one of two men riding a blue Honda XRM motorcycle.
A similar motorcycle was allegedly being used by a hit man identified with illegal gambling personalities in Digos City, the direction the suspects had fled to after killing Casiro.
The same hit man, identified in police reports as an alias Jake Bravo, was also blamed for the May 25 killing of suspected Digos City pusher Efren Serad.
During the past two days, police authorities tried to race against time by conducting raids and arrested suspected pushers one after another.
Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, intelligence chief of the southern Mindanao police office, had told the Inquirer the intensified drive against shabu and marijuana pushers was based on a directive of Bautista to the police to put a stop to the illegal drug trade in four months from June.
The Digos City police announced the arrest on Thursday of another suspected shabu pusher, Felipe Requizo, 30, of Barangay Lower Kiagot, the 13th to fall since June 26.
In Bansalan, Davao del Sur, farmer Sergio Dayanan was arrested on Thursday while transporting marijuana. Orlando Dinoy and Eldie Aguirre, Inquirer Mindanao