RIDING-IN-TANDEM killers have claimed another life in Iloilo City.
Just like previous cases involving motorcycle-riding suspects in the past six months, the assailants remain unidentified and at-large.
Forty-year-old Lhuil Clemente was driving through the busy Mabini Street in City Proper district on Mar 2, 2019 when four suspects on board two motorcycles tailed him.
The street where the killing happened is sandwiched by a mall on one side and a gasoline station on the other side.
Witnesses said the backrider of the first motorcycle pumped bullets into Clemente who then fell on the road.
The backrider of the other motorcycle alighted and fired finishing shots on the severely wounded victim.
Police Staff Sergeant Rhizan Magoleño, Iloilo City Police Station 1 investigator, said the victim died at around 12:39 p.m. at the Iloilo Doctors Hospital.
He succumbed to gunshot wounds on his chest, back of the body, neck, and head.
Clementes family, neighbors, and friends attested that the victim had not received any death threats. He also had no enemies in the area.
Clemente was a dealer of meat products and also sidelined as bet collector for basketball games. He also liked to play billiards.
While personal grudges could still not be established as the motive of the killing, investigation showed that the victim surrendered through Oplan Tokhang. Magoleño said the Molo Police Station even classified him as a high value target (HVT) level 1.
Clemente even underwent and finished a drug rehabilitation program at the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) headquarters in Camp Delgado, Iloilo City.
But Magoleño said they still have to confirm if the victim indeed sold drugs.
Police Captain Victor Bacinillo, ICPS1 deputy chief, said they are still facing a blank wall on the identities of the assailants.
Bacinillo said they are gathering evidence and footages from closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras of nearby establishments.
Before Clemente, the last killing perpetrated by riding-in-tandem gunmen happened Jan. 4, 2019 in Mandurriao, Iloilo.
The incident claimed the life of Mercedes Nava, 66, a resident of Mejorada Street, Barangay Oñate-de Leon, Mandurriao, and Erwin Fontillas, 42, of Barangay Airport, Mandurriao.
Of the number of MRS (Motorcycle Riding Suspects) killings since September 2018, the cases of Nava and Fontillas were the only incident where police was able to identify the alleged suspects.
Police arrested brothers Julius and Roy de los Reyes, security aides of Councilor Plaridel Nava.
Nava, who is seeking a vice mayoralty post, is Mercedes cousin.
The delos Reyes brothers were subsequently charged for murder and violations of Republic Act 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) and RA 9516 or illegal possession of explosives, after a hand grenade was allegedly recovered on their possession following their arrest.
But unlike Mercedes, the previous cases, including Clementes killings, were tagged in the illegal drug trade.
Prior to Mercedes and Fontillas killings, there was the case of Nestor Piagola, 33, of Barangay Zamora-Melliza, City Proper, Iloilo, who was killed near the Iloilo Terminal Market at the busy street of Rizal in Barangay Rima, City Proper district on Nov. 24, 2018.
Piagola was the seventh fatality of MRS killings since Sept. 7, 2018.
And just like the six previous victims, Piagola was also linked to illegal drugs. He was a Tokhang surrenderer while his father is a convicted drug personality and is now serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.
Four days before Piagola was killed, a retired police officer was gunned down at Barangay Villa Anita, City Proper.
Ronaldo Alag, who held a rank of Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) before retiring from the PNP, was peppered with bullets in broad daylight.
Marvin Vasquez, 34, of Zone 3, Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao, who was also peppered with bullets at Barangay Taft North on Nov. 7, 2018.
Also, a barangay tanod who surrendered through Oplan Tokhang was gunned down in broad daylight at Barangay Calubihan, Jaro, Iloilo City on Oct. 5. Neil Resma, 38, was washing his motorcycle around 9:15 a.m. when two motorcycle-riding persons approached and shot him with a handgun.
On Sept. 7, two Tokhang surrenderers were killed in a span of 10 hours.
Riding-in-tandem gunmen also sprayed bullets at Rolando Puda and Don Azucena.
Azucena, 39, was killed by still unidentified suspects at Barangay Calumpang, Molo, Iloilo City at around 9:25 a.m. He died on the scene from multiple gunshot injuries on the body and head.
Meanwhile, Puda, 41, was killed near his house at Barangay Ingore, La Paz.
Four days later, a tricycle driver was also assassinated around 5 p.m. at Barangay Tacas, Jaro District.
Gerardo Mamarion, 25, was riddled with bullets several meters away from their house.