BCPO faces strain in another drug-related slay

Personnel of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) check on the personal belongings of slain ex-village chief Manuel “Maui” Huelar at Barangay Villamonte, Bacolod City Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Police Station 4)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Police Colonel Henry Biñas, director of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), said they are again facing difficulty to solve another drug-related killing here, following the murder of former Barangay 35 captain Manuel “Maui” Huelar at Barangay Villamonte on April 16, 2020.

Huelar was gunned down by an unidentified man inside a weightlifting gym while he was talking to someone on his cellular phone. He asked permission from the gym owner, who was his friend, to use the facility that day.

He succumbed to gunshot injuries to his body and head. Police recovered from the scene two empty shells of .45-caliber ammunition.

Huelar’s .45-caliber pistol was also recovered inside the gym.

The gunman, who was wearing a face mask, allegedly fled on foot while others claimed that a get-away vehicle was seen in the area, with an alleged spotter or lookout. But police have yet to confirm the information.

The shooting happened while the city was under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Biñas said the incident was the modus of a drug syndicate.

Wala mahadlok mapatay or magpatay. Determinado gid sila even with the presence of policemen, barangay watchmen, and barangay officials from a distance,” he added.

Biñas said that a check-up point was set up a block away from the crime scene, but no gunshots were heard.

“It was the gym’s caretaker who informed the police about the shooting when he ran from the scene after the perpetrator fled,” he added.

He said the killing was planned, especially the gunman’s entry and exit points which avoided the check-up point.

Huelar faced illegal drug charges in 2016 and was released from jail in 2018, following a plea bargaining.

He was also a former Negros Slashers star in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).

Police Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Pico, public information officer of BCPO, said Huelar reportedly continued his illegal drug activity after he was released from jail.

“He‘s still part of our drugs watchlist,” Pico said.

Meanwhile, Biñas said they are also eyeing grudge as one of the motives behind the killing, adding that the person who called him over the phone may also be involved in the crime.

He said they are looking for witnesses and closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage to help them in their investigation.

“Lack of witnesses is one of our difficulties in handling drug-related cases,” he added.