Taxi of businessman tagged as drug lord burned down in Iloilo
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—Unidentified men on Wednesday burned a taxi unit owned by a businessman who has been tagged by authorities as a drug lord in Iloilo.
The two men believed to have burned down a “Melvin” taxi left the driver Jonathan Banes unharmed and did not take his cellphone and earnings amounting to about P4,000.
The Melvin taxi fleet is owned by Melvin Odicta who was tagged by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the head of one of two main drug groups operating in Western Visayas.
Odicta has repeatedly denied the allegation. He is facing criminal charges for leading a group of men who allegedly attempted to forcibly enter radio station Aksyon Radyo Iloilo which has been airing reports and commentaries against illegal drugs.
Banes told investigators he picked up the two men along Delgado Street in Iloilo City past midnight. The passengers told him to bring them to Barangay (village) Ungka in the neighboring Pavia town but one of them poked a gun at the driver when they reached Barangay Sambag in Jaro District in Iloilo City.
The men then tied his hands and feet and gagged his mouth with packing tape before commandeering the vehicle, Banes told PO3 John Batadlan, investigator of the police station of Oton town in Iloilo where the razed Toyota Avanza was recovered past 2 a.m.
Oton is about seven kilometers from Iloilo City.
Banes said one of the men drove the vehicle after they tied him up. They then left him along the road in Barangay Sambag.
He told investigators he managed to call and asked for help from his fellow taxi drivers.
Firemen from the Oton fire station tried to put out the fire but the vehicle was already almost burned down when they arrived in Barangay Polo Maestra Vita where the vehicle was abandoned.
Investigators were still determining the identities of the taxi passengers and the motive of the burning of the taxi as of Wednesday afternoon. RAM
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