AUTHORITIES are now investigating the alleged presence of gun-for-hire suspects amid the series of killing incidents in the Negros Occidental capital city.

Colonel Thomas Joseph Martir, director of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), said Monday, June 20, that they are not discounting the possibility that "guns-for-hire" are in Bacolod since about nine shooting incidents were already reported from June 1 to 19, 2022.

The latest shooting incident happened on Sunday evening, June 19, when a tricycle driver was killed by an unidentified assailant on Adelfa Street, Barangay 31.

Police identified the fatality as Christopher Guanzon, 38, of Purok Progreso, in the city's Barangay Taculing.

Investigation showed the victim was standing outside the house of his sister on Villarta Street in the barangay's Purok Santa Ana around 9 p.m. when a lone gunman arrived on board a motorcycle.

The victim was brought to a hospital, but he did not survive.

Martir said they are eyeing illegal drugs as a possible motive in the killing of the victim.

He said that before the incident, the victim went to Barangay 27 and he was followed by an unidentified man toward Barangay 31.

A sachet of shabu was recovered from the victim at the hospital, the top city police official said.

Of the nine shooting incidents, Martir said three of the cases were drug-related, including those that happened in the areas of Barangays 31, Singcang-Airport and Banago.

"We have witnesses and we already identified the suspects. The investigators are now preparing the document to file the case against them," he said.

He added that they are now intensifying their visibility patrol and they will conduct random checkpoints in various barangays.

"We already doubled our efforts to solve these killings and we will also tap the support of the barangay force multipliers to prevent the possible operation of the lawless elements within their barangays," Martir said.

As this developed, Councilor Al Victor, chairperson of the City Council committee on police matters, said he is planning to hold a meeting with Martir to discuss ways to address the problem.

Espino said the police official should update the City Council and the general public regarding the peace and order situation in the city.

Of nine shooting incidents, seven persons were killed and four were injured.

Also on June 19, 2022, a construction worker, Richard Jimenez, 30, of the city's Barangay 26, was injured when Police Master Sergeant Jeff Desucatan, of Barangay Alijis, shot him on the leg.

Jorem Sibug, 24, of Barangay 27, who was just passing by, was also hit by a stray bullet.

On June 14, businessman Jeffrey Keng Seng, 40, of Barangay 1, was shot to death by an unidentified assailant on board a motorcycle along B.S. Aquino Drive-Lacson Streets in Barangay 5.

Jestoni Sabare, 30, a member of force multiplier group, was also killed by an unidentified assailant on board a motorcycle on Luzuriaga Street, Barangay 13 on Independence Day, June 12.

Three days prior, on June 8, Jose Allan Braza, 59, an alleged law enforcement asset, was shot to death by unidentified gunmen in Purok Malipayon, Barangay 35.

On June 5, Rene Mateo, a laborer, was also killed by unidentified man inside the compound of his workplace in Purok 12-A Las Altas, Barangay Alangilan.

Michael Diopeta, 28, and Jemar Berja, 42, both residents of Barangay Sum-ag, were injured after they were shot by the husband of their co-worker On June 1.

"It's a daily occurrence so it's not isolated [cases] anymore. Only the Philippine National Police can solve these incidents and we are hopeful that they will identify and arrest the suspects soon to give justice to the family of the victims," Espino said.

Councilor Renecito Novero, floor leader, also said that he is saddened that it is now happening in Bacolod City.

"We are hopeful that the police will solve these cases as soon as possible because it continues to scare our people. They should double their efforts to solve the killings," he said.

Novero stressed that the BCPO should also strictly enforce the riding-in-tandem ordinance of the city.

"We will revisit our riding-in-tandem ordinance so we can discuss it with the BCPO. If we are enforcing our ordinance, we can solve and reduce the crime incidents," he said.

City Ordinance 832, series of 2017, an ordinance regulating the practice of riding-in-tandem on motorcycles, made it unlawful for any driver and his back rider to ride in tandem on a motorcycle on any given day from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.