ORMOC CITY – A barangay tanod at Brgy. San Jose here, one of Ormoc’s biggest barangays, was gunned down by motorcycle riding assassins in what his family believes is largely related to his hard stance against the proliferation of illegal drugs and gambling in their city. This sends a chilling factor to concerned citizens who’d like to help the police in solving criminality in their communities, as the culture of impunity in the city continues.
Gunned down in the afternoon of December 17 at the “habal-habal” terminal of San Jose was Gerry Cañete, in his early 40’s. He was killed in front of many people. He was reportedly shot seven times but only four found their mark, including two which disfigured his face that the embalmer’s efforts to restore how he looked when alive went to naught. A bullet went through the back of his neck and exited on his left eye.
He left behind his wife and five children, the youngest is in Grade 2. His coffin and a chair beside it where his widow sat most of the time almost filled up almost of their 3 by 4 meters house, the other half on the far end was the “papag” or shared bed for the couple and their children.
His widow said her husband made an honest living from growing vegetables, pigs and driving his own habal-habal. Noticing that their barrio’s youth were slowly being influenced by drugs, he was active in the anti-drugs campaign. His husband would always tell him that he did not want drugs to proliferate in their neighborhood because of his children.
His widow was not sure if his husband was a police informant, but added a policeman would always come to them to buy vegetables. Two or three days before her husband was killed, a police came and talked with the victim for a longish time. She also noticed their neighbors seemed angry and upset with her husband.
However, she said that even with her husband already dead, she will continue to teach her children to avoid drugs and that it caused the death of their father.
Sr. Insp. Manuelito Wenceslao, chief of the police station 2 in Valencia, this city, does not discount that the motive behind Cañete’s killing was his hard stance against the illegal drug trade. The responding police recovered four 45-caliber empty slugs at the crime scene.
Wenceslao added that even while there were many people who witnessed the killing, none have come out to identify them. Accordingly, the killers wore closed helmets which made it difficult to see their faces.
A reliable source, on the other hand, said the proliferation of the illegal drug trade in San Jose and neighboring areas started when a known drug personality lording it over in the city bought a large piece of land thereabouts.
That was when they noticed the trade starting to flourish in the area. Many young people have become victims of shabu use already, he said, only that it is not well reported. “Mga praning na lang”, he said.
On top of the drug problem is illegal gambling. Petty criminality is on the rise in the once peaceful rural area with more and more people getting hooked into betting, causing thieveries and the like. By Lalaine M. Jimenea