‘Sacrilege’ in Manila, ‘extermination’ in Pateros
“THIS is sacrilege,” a village watchman in Manila said.
“We’re being exterminated!” cried a tricycle driver in Pateros.
Residents expressed a rising sense of fear and violation in the wake of three fresh drug-related killings early Tuesday morning, with two of the victims found just outside a Manila campus and the third on a Pateros street where two other murders took place last week.
Hours before classes opened at Sta. Catalina College in Sampaloc, two men stabbed in the chest and with their faces wrapped in packaging tape lay a few feet away from the school’s entrance gate on Legarda Street. Brown carton boards with red plastic string looped around their necks proclaimed them to be “pushers” who should not be emulated.
Edwin Regondolla, a tanod from Barangay 410 who was among the first residents at the scene, said the killers apparently had no qualms about dumping murder victims on a place named after a saint.
“This means they are also defiling a place of honor and respect,’” Regondolla said. “You can look at it that way if you’re a religious person.”
Regondolla said the incident was a first in his barangay but what shocked him more was the brazenness of the perpetrators.
Another resident said he rushed to the site because the dead “might be someone I know.”
But a barangay councilor’s wife could easily tell that “they are not from here; I know because of their clothes and build.”
In Pateros, Salvador Cuatro III, a 34-year-old garbage collector, was shot four times in the head outside his house on Alley 2, P. Rosales Street, Barangay Sta. Ana, around 3:40 a.m.
Cuatro was attacked by still unidentified gunmen on motorbikes as he was sorting the recyclable materials he had gathered the previous night, according to the report submitted to Pateros police chief Supt. Joel Villanueva.
The victim was included in the local drug watch list and was the third to be slain vigilante-style on the same street in a span of six days, the Inquirer learned.
According to the Pateros police, 28-year-old Rolly Bautista and 50-year-old Raul Castillo were gunned down also on Rosales Street on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, respectively. They lived on different alleys leading to Rosales.
Like Cuatro, Bautista and Castillo were also on the drug watch list.
“We may be next,” said one woman who lives next to Castillo, her hands trembling and her voice shaking. “(The killers) showed up while the neighborhood was asleep and just shot him. We may just have to leave this place.”
“Inuubos na nila tayo rito (We are being exterminated)!” said a tricycle driver who also lives in the area.
Cuatro’s mother, Margaret, recalled telling her son to “just hide and go somewhere far away” because he may be the next one killed.
She said Cuatro’s killers might have mistaken him for his older brother who was “more outspoken” about about his involvement in drugs.
According to Barangay Sta. Ana chair Benny Santidad, all the 22 alleys connected to the 2-kilometer Rosales Street had harbored “27 drug dens.”
Santidad said the street and the alleys were perfect for drug den operators: Rosales is wide enough for lookouts to easily spot approaching policemen or village officials, while the narrow alleys provide an escape route for drug users familiar with their maze-like layout.
“Whenever we go there, the scene is already ‘clean,’” Santidad said.
Asked how barangay officials like him can ensure the security of the residents living near drug suspects, Santidad took a pause and replied: “That is beyond my control.”
He believes the police should not let vigilante killings remain unsolved. “But when the police are not investigating and have failed to do their responsibility, the barangay captain would have to do their job,” he said without elaborating.
The barangay chair said Cuatro, Bautista and Castillo were among the 1,228 drug users so far recorded in Pateros.
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