On a warm and relatively peaceful afternoon, a family sits comfortably in a timbol or local passenger motor cab from Calbayog City while a habal-habal or a passenger single motorcycle, going the opposite direction when they were unexpectedly riddled with gunshots from nowhere last Friday, April 14, in Barangay Victory, Calbayog City.
Three of the victims, including a 14-year-old student, died on the spot while two others were hurt in the attack. One later expired while being treated at Calbayog City Hospital.
Based on the initial report by the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Calbayog, the timbol came from Barangay Geragaan and headed to Calabayog City proper. Other passengers —Vicente Luzong, Jr., 45; Rachel Ann Belino, 14; Vicente Luzong, Sr., 73, and Venjo Vere, 30, the timbol driver, are all residents of Purok 3, Barangay Hamorawon.
The habal-habal that carried passengers Angelo Lustico, 43; Lailanie Dealagdog, 30, resident of Bgy. Osmeña and Emmie Tomnob, 46, Bgy. Secretary of Barangay La Paz, also in Calbayog City.
Witnesses said while the vehicles were on top of the hill, timbol passenger, Vicente Luzong, Sr., requested to stop to take a leak by the roadside. Just then, the habal-habal passed by. At that instant, they attested, seven unidentified armed men wearing black shirts came out nowhere and fired at them. The assailants immediately fled on foot towards the forested area to escape.
Because of this incident, the Police Regional Office-8 confirmed the deployment of 72 additional cops after this incident to ensure the safety of city residents.
P/Col. Owen Andarino, acting deputy regional director for the Administration, expressed confidence that the reinforcement will greatly facilitate the investigation.
"Your deployment will play an integral part in the possible arrest of said perpetrators. Likewise, I want you all to be on guard for your safety and security while in the area," he said during the send-off ceremony in Palo, Leyte.
Samar police are now examining the retrieved fired cartridges from .45 caliber and 5.56mm rifles allegedly used during the shooting.
The investigation also revealed that the suspects took the late Angelo Lustico's cellphone and personal wallet, which contained his identification card and P5,000 cash.
PRO-8 Director Police Brig. Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil personally inspected the crime scene and asked the Samar Police Provincial Office to speed up the investigation.
“I am deeply saddened upon receiving this report. Despite doing our best in maintaining peace and order in the whole of Eastern Visayas, this kind of incident still happened. With this, we assure the families of the victims and the public that we are conducting a thorough and speedy investigation,” Marbil said.
Bereaved relatives are pleading for justice for their lost loved ones. Despite the authorities' assurances, safety remains a concern, especially since the suspects are still on the run.