Before the shots, watchers cheered fight
“Pare, saglit (Buddy, wait).”
These were the last words heard from Mark Vincent Garalde, the biker encountered by Vhon Martin Tanto in a road altercation in Quiapo, Manila, on Monday night.
Getting off from his red Hyundai Eon, Tanto replied by shooting Garalde twice in the face at close range, then pulling the trigger two more times after the victim fell to the ground.
This was how a witness, Bryan Yu, recalled the encounter between the two men who traded punches and “nothing but angry words” before Tanto finished the fight with his pistol.
According to Yu, he first spotted the two men on Arlegui Street with Tanto chasing Garalde before cutting him off on Casal Street. He said both were fuming mad (“gigil na gigil”) as they had an exchange, which prompted Tanto to get off his car.
Then the two-minute fistfight ensued. Other witnesses who refused to be identified said onlookers cheered as the two men fought, with some saying they did not intervene because both men were obviously “parehong matapang” or spoiling for a fight.
Tanto appeared to have suffered the worst beating, based on the footage taken by a security camera in the area. He stepped back and returned to his car while Garalde walked back to his bike.
Yu said the spectators thought it was over—but Garalde stuck his head inside the vehicle and said something to Tanto.
He added that Garalde was again walking away when he looked back and yelled at Tanto, “You son of a b—h! What do you want, come here!”
Tanto responded, Yu said, by again getting out of his car—this time with a gun—and saying: “What now?”
The case investigator, SPO2 Charles Duran of the Manila Police District (MPD) homicide division, said a woman was in the car with Tanto that night. She remained unidentified “but definitely she’s not the wife,” Duran said.
Bystanders said the woman shouted at Tanto, telling him not to shoot Garalde.
Car recovered in Vizcaya
These details of the July 25 road rage incident emerged Thursday as investigators pressed on with the hunt for Tanto, an Army reservist, who had since left his Quiapo residence. The MPD gave him until 5 p.m. Wednesday to surrender.
The police recovered Tanto’s car in Nueva Vizcaya province, while the Manila city government offered a P100,000 reward for any information leading to his capture.
“We’re asking the public’s cooperation for the immediate arrest of the suspect. Any information will be a big help to our law enforcers,” Mayor Joseph Estrada said.
“If he resists, he will surely end up six feet underground,” Estrada said, noting that the MPD had already declared intentions to get the “armed and extremely dangerous” suspect “dead or alive.”
In Camp Crame, Highway Patrol Group (HPG) chief Senior Supt. Antonio Gardiola, whose team was among those tasked to find Tanto, advised the suspect to “just surrender and take responsibility for your deed. Don’t fight so that you won’t put your life in danger.”
Brig. Gen. Leoncio Cirunay Jr., commander of the Armed Forces’ Reserve Command, also called on Tanto to surrender. “Don’t dishonor [your fellow] reservists who are helping our people.”
“While he is not in active service, the AFP does not tolerate what he did,” Cirunay said.
Where suspect went next
Tanto’s car was found in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya, after a tipster spotted it on Dalton Pass. A municipal police investigator, PO2 Reynaldo Morales, said the vehicle, with conduction sticker MO 3745, was recovered in Purok 3, Barangay Kirang at `5 a.m. Thursday.
The suspect had left his vehicle on the farm of his brother-in-law Jonathan Llano, a resident in the area, Morales said.
According to Senior Supt. Leumar Abugan, Nueva Vizcaya police chief, Tanto on Wednesday morning asked Llano to take him to a bus terminal where he could take a ride to Bataan province.
At the terminal in neighboring Barangay Banganan, Tanto boarded a Florida bus bound for Sampaloc-Cubao, Abugan said. The police were checking if the suspect actually proceeded to Bataan or returned to Metro Manila.
Llano, a discharged Philippine Marine soldier, told authorities that Tanto arrived at his house at 6 p.m. Tuesday and stayed for the night. “The Llanos were then unaware of the incident and did not notice anything suspicious about Tanto except for a bruise on his face,” said a report by Chief Insp. Joberman Videz, Aritao police chief.
“Llano found out that Tanto was a suspect after he left. (The Llanos) tried but failed to contact him through his mobile phone,” Videz added.
Meanwhile, doctors in a Manila hospital have removed the stray bullet from the back of an 18-year-old college student who was wounded in the Quiapo shooting.
Dr. Domingo Reyes, one of the physicians attending to Rosell Bondoc, said the bullet had penetrated her lower back and damaged her kidney. With Melvin Garcon, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Jerome Aning
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