GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia’s theory that “vigilantes” are behind the recent spate of high-profile killings in Metro Cebu is compelling even if it is partly a dig at Rep. Tomas Osmeña.

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It is indeed possible that those behind the more than a hundred vigilante-style killings in Cebu City a few years ago may have made themselves available now as hired guns.


These “vigilantes” are the most experienced murderers around.

After a number of past hits, it’s a no-brainer to think they have become masters of surveillance on the fly and the treacherous attack on unarmed targets.

The recent killings have the signature of those “vigilantes” written all over them: gunmen riding in tandem on motorcycles then staging the ambush when the vehicle-riding target is slowed down by traffic.

And the “vigilantes” of old, if rumors about them were to be believed, were virtually hired guns, supposedly receiving a “reward” of a few thousand pesos for every “criminal” felled.

Some businessmen allegedly bankrolled those vigilante operations, which then mayor Osmeña either “inspired” or tolerated. The funding source dried up when public furor over the killings forced the police to stop looking the other way.

It’s therefore possible they are seeking extra earning from other sources.

Starting point

This is not the first time, though, that people used for a less objectionable activity eventually shift to obnoxious or criminal undertakings.

Some members of the notorious Kuratong Baleleng robbery band and the dreaded Red Scorpion Group, for example, started off as members of the armed partisans serving the cause of the revolutionary underground.

Their experience in conducting armed operations in the urban areas made easy the transition to kidnapping and hold-up/robbery activities.

Of course, the governor’s theory will remain a theory until evidence is gathered to bolster it. But it can be a good starting point in the effort to go deeper into the problem.


One positive thing about this “vigilante” as hired killer theory can also be a drawback: that the police know who these “vigilantes” are, that is, if they are not cops themselves.

Either they can be successfully pinpointed or investigators will continue to hide their identities out of respect or fear of them.