IT SMACKS of the modus operandi (MO) used in the killing of suspects involved in illegal drug trafficking. A motorcycle, two men (as most assailants are men), a hood, a .caliber 45 pistol. And a target.
This time, the assassins killed a member of the Bukas Loob sa Diyos, a Catholic charismatic group. They meet every Tuesday at the Redemptorist Church.
Alex Yap Yao and his wife have a set weekly pattern. Mr. Yao is so easy to track down. It takes only planning on where and when which are the variables. Why the assassins chose to do the rubout in a church seems to indicate that the where is a message to the Bacolod clergy.
I Googled. Except for their killing, there were many Alex Yaos in LinkedIn and Facebook. The Alex Yaos are millennials and live abroad. I saw none who live in Bacolod and looked like a 54-year-old man.
To be sure, the rumor mills were busy on the Why. The MO bespeaks of hundreds of others killed the same way. The slain was suspected of illegal drug traffickers or their protectors.
But that’s it. Rumors. Accusations that will not stand in a court of law.
I can still recall that President Rodrigo Duterte accused relieved Bacolod City Police chief Senior Superintendent Francisco Ebreo of being a “protector” cop.
Duterte’s reason for sacking Ebreo? “You know there was this - si Cano, a councilor who has been tagged by the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) almost a decade ago to be engaged in trafficking, na-ambush. Eh nag-aaway daw. There were about 3 ambushes before that incident na pumunta sila sa ospital, silang dalawa ng deputy.”
However, the PNP and the PDEA issued separate statements categorically stating that the sacked Ebreo was not on any drug watchlist.
In the same way, the Yao murder has no smoking gun. Alex Yao was not in any government watchlist, let alone involvement on illegal drugs. Yet he was killed.
Worse, the Bacolod rumor mills are pinpointing rich Chinese-Filipino business people. It has been proven that rumors kill.
Diocesan Catholic Bishop Patricio Buzon is right. In his statement on the Yao murder case, he said, “ours is a society of laws and as reasonable individuals, we do not place the law in our hands. Violence is never our way of seeking redress and this incident of killing imperils that order.”
Unfortunately, a pattern is emerging. The killings are not random. Officers of the law themselves are not above being targeted. The same MO was used in the killing of Negrense lawyers Rafael Atotubo and Benjamin Ramos. Negrense society is fast deteriorating into a lynch mob society.
“This atrocity against a civilian lawyer, practically defenseless and unsuspecting, is apparently intended to demoralize and undermine lawyers in practicing their profession and in pursuing their advocacies,” said IBP-Negros chapter president Arnel Lapore.