CARLO Mangitngit, 14, lost his life because three young men wanted to have a drink but didn’t have the money to buy liquor.

Joypher Tatoy, 22, Marvin Abella Sanchez, 25, both residents of Sitio Gun Club, Banawa, Guadalupe, and 16-year-old Mark (full name withheld for being a minor) went out last Sunday morning, looking for someone to rob.

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They found Mangitngit along Horseshoe Hills in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City around 8 a.m.

“Para makapalit mi og inum, mao na dayon to (We killed him right there and there so we could have money to buy liquor),” said Tatoy, who admitted shooting Mangitngit.

He also said he didn’t plan to shoot Mangitngit, but the gun went off while he pointed it at the altar boy.

“Pasayloa ko. Nagmahay ko sa akong gihimo (Forgive me. I regret what I did),” Tatoy said.

After taking the boy’s Nokia 3310, worth P500, Sanchez pawned the cell phone to his uncle for P200. It was allegedly Sanchez’s idea to pick a random target.

They then used the money to buy liquor.

Relieved by the break in the case, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he is thinking of giving a commendation and perhaps a cash reward to the policemen who arrested the suspects.

“There should be a commendation for their very timely work,” said Osmeña, though he added he still has to see the report.

Mangitngit struggled for his life for at least eight hours in the Vicente Sotto Memorial Center, but did not survive his gunshot wound. The slug from the .38 revolver used in the shooting tore into the back of his head, exiting through his forehead.

After an operation that lasted two days, a joint team from the Theft and Robbery Section, Guadalupe Police Station and the Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDBM) arrested the trio.

All three suspects admitted participating in the attack.

First to fall was Sanchez, who was initially arrested for another offense.

Sanchez, a member of the Bloods Gang who was once arrested and jailed for a drug-related case, was taken into custody along with Jason Capacite Villarma, 18, past 9 p.m. Monday.

They were accused of stabbing jeepney driver Fortunato Ibon Jr. at the intersection of V. Rama Ave. and M. Velez St. last Saturday. Ibon remains under observation in one of the hospitals in the city.

One of the witnesses to Mangitngit’s killing reportedly pointed to Sanchez as one of the three men who robbed and shot the altar boy.

During interrogation, Sanchez allegedly confessed to the crime, and named Tatoy and Mark as his cohorts.

Sanchez reportedly grabbed Mangitngit’s cell phone. Tatoy shot the victim, while Mark drove the motorcycle used in the robbery.

The motorcycle was recovered at Mark’s house on McArthur Ave., Barangay Tejero.

After getting the information about Tatoy’s whereabouts, the team proceeded to Dunggo-an, Carcar City, Cebu and arrested Tatoy.

From Carcar, Tatoy led the police team to an area in Sitio Tambis, Guadalupe, where he kept the revolver used in the shooting. Inside the cylinder were seven bullets and one empty shell.

Police also retrieved Mangitngit’s phone.

At 5 a.m. yesterday, Mark surrendered to Chief Insp. George Ylanan of IDMB.

Ylanan said they found out that Sanchez, Tatoy and Mark were drinking till the wee hours of Sunday morning. When their drinks ran out, they decided to stage a robbery.

The trio spotted Mangitngit walking along the road with an eight-year-old companion.

Tatoy and Sanchez, when interviewed by reporters, admitted to the crime.

Tatoy said it was primarily Sanchez’s idea to stage the robbery. The latter, however, said the three of them planned it together.

“With their arrest, the case is deemed solved,” Cebu City Police Chief Patrocenio Comendador said.

Charges of robbery with homicide will be filed against them.

A separate complaint for violation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban will be filed against Tatoy.

Sanchez and Villarma, meanwhile, will be charged with frustrated murder for stabbing Ibon.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama said he hopes the evidence against the suspects is strong enough for an airtight case. Rama, chairman of the Police Coordinating and

Advisory Council, agreed with the mayor that the police deserve to be commended for their work.

Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. said he is thankful for the police force’s perseverance in pursing criminals.

As chairman of the council committee on public order and safety, he said he will meet with police officials soon to discuss crime prevention strategies, including the distribution of personnel.

“Crime prevention is preferred, over crime solution,” Pe said.

He has suggested to the police the assignment of firearms to “force multipliers” like the Barangay Intelligence Network and other anti-crime volunteers, as long as they are carefully selected and trained.

Osmeña said he is worried that criminals no longer seem to be scared of the police, unlike in other countries where people “fear the law, that’s why they follow the law.”

If “people here don’t fear the law, we’ll have a worse situation,” he said.