THE Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday, July 8, to intensify operations to stop the “growing” industry of gun-for-hire as indicated by the recent killings of local government officials as well as priests.
VACC spokesperson Boy Evangelista said the killing of Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili, General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote, as well as that of Father Richmond Nilo, and other incidents involving priests and local government executives are already alarming.
"Naaalarma kami. Tayong lahat ay natatakot sa present danger, 'yung sitwasyon na kung saan ang laging nasa utak natin ay sino ang susunod. Parang series talaga (We are alarmed. All of us are scared to teh present danger, in the situation in which we are thinking of who is next.)" he said.
"Talagang nakakabahala talaga at very alarming 'yung proportion ngayon," he added.
Nilo was gunned down right in front of the altar of a chapel in Zaragosa Nueva Ecija on June 10. It was a Sunday and he was then preparing to hold a mass.
The suspect was arrested and revealed that he was paid to eliminate Nilo.
Nilo was the third priest who was killed in the past six months.
The two others were Father Marcelito Paez and Father Mark Ventura.
Paez was shot dead by motorcycle-riding-suspects while inside his vehicle traversing Jaen-Zaragoza Road in Sitio Sanggalang, Barangay Lambakin also in Nueva Ecija on December 2017.
Ventura, the parish priest of San Isidro church in Gattaran Cagayan was also shot dead by suspects who flew using a motorcycle.
Meanwhile, on Monday, July 2, Halili was shot in a distance and was killed by a single bullet which pierced right through his heart during a flag ceremony at the city hall.
A day after, on Tuesday, July 3, Bote was gunned down by several men in front of National Immigration Administration office in Cabanatuan City.
Police said persons of interests were already identified in both cases.
On Saturday, July 7, Trece Martires Cavite Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan was also killed in an ambush.
Evangelista said the killings indicates the country’s massive problem on gun-for-hire.
"'Yung gun-for-hire industry na kung saan palaki nang palaki, co-equal sa other crimes na katulad ng kidnapping, gun-running, illegal drugs distribution, holdup, robbery, carnapping (The gun-for-hire industry is growing, co-equal as to the other crimes like kidnappin, gun-running, illegal drugs distribution, holdup, robbery, and carnapping.)," he said.
"Ngayon, nakita natin 'yung paglaki. Ito na 'yung shining moment ng mga gun-for-hire na ito," he added.
He urged the PNP to beef up intelligence gathering against gun-for-hire syndicates or form a special task group in which their main responsibility is to conduct operations focusing on gun-for-hire suspects.
Meanwhile, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said the police are on their toes to ensure these cases will be addressed and justice will be served.
“We in the PNP are committed in getting to the bottom of this and have already tasked our special investigation tasks groups on the ground to conduct a thorough investigation,” he said.
“We likewise appeal for any information which may help us quickly solve these cases so that justice will be served to the victims and their families,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)