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‘It’s not right to kill, kill, kill’

By: - Reporter / @erikaINQ
/ 12:21 AM October 31, 2016
In a message posted on a tarpaulin, coworkers mourn the death of Balong, a tricycle driver who ended up dead last month because his passenger, an accused in a drug case,  happened to be a hit man’s target.  —contributed photo

In a message posted on a tarpaulin, coworkers mourn the death of Balong, a tricycle driver who ended up dead last month because his passenger, an accused in a drug case, happened to be a hit man’s target. ERIKA SAULER/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

For the parents of Marvin “Balong” Columbino, a tricycle driver in Pasay City killed over a month ago by a bullet intended for his passenger, justice appears to be out of reach.

“It pains us that he was just making an honest living and all of a sudden he’s dead,” his mother Maria, 57, said in a recent interview with the Inquirer.

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The gunman’s target was Balong’s passenger, a drug suspect who had just attended a court hearing for an illegal drug possession case and was on his way home.

The 28-year-old Balong, whose death was regarded as collateral damage, left two sons and a baby yet to be born.

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Case investigator SPO2 Joel Landicho said Balong had no criminal record and was not on the drug watchlist. “He was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he told the Inquirer.

According to Landicho, the recovered 9-mm bullet could be the key to identifying the perpetrator as the police await the results of the cross-matching test.

Balong was the vice president of the Pasay City Hall Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (PCHTODA) which had put up a tarpaulin calling for justice. It was taken down after two weeks upon the request of a relative, the association’s president told the Inquirer.

A month after the shooting incident, Balong’s parents, Maria and Benjamin, expressed doubts that justice would be served particularly since the gunman’s target, 18-year-old Brent Michael Bravo, a resident of Facundo Street in Barangay 132, has apparently disappeared.

The incident happened just meters away from the Pasay City Hall and Balong’s residence around 9 a.m. on Sept. 19.

Police said a motorcycle-riding gunman wearing a ski mask and sunglasses fired at Bravo, who was seated behind the tricycle driver, on D. Galvez corner Figueroa Streets. However, the bullet went through Bravo’s left arm and body before hitting Balong in the back.

Bravo was brought to San Juan de Dios Hospital for treatment while Balong was pronounced dead on arrival at Pasay City General Hospital at 10:40 a.m.

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“My son was shot like an animal,” Benjamin said, disheartened that the gunman was able to escape while the target, who could have provided a lead for policemen, had vanished.

In the backdrop of this unfortunate incident is President Duterte’s war on drugs which, according to critics, has given rise to vigilante-style killings.

“It’s not right to just kill, kill, kill,” Maria said. “They bypass the courts while innocent people get affected.”

PCHTODA president Joseph Miranda described Balong as a good father and a kind person who had no vices.

Balong, who did not finish high school, served as a mechanic for his family’s tricycle units as his father and cousins also earned a living as drivers.

Balong’s nine-year-old son said he misses his father, particularly the way he took care of him and his younger brother at meal time.

He said he wanted to be a policeman someday, adding, “I want to help solve cases.”

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TAGS: Brent Michael Bravo, extra-judicial killings, Illegal drug possession, Illegal drugs, Marvin “Balong” Columbino, Oplan Tokhang, Pasay City, tricycle driver, vigilante-style killings
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