Drug link suspected in daylight murder of former inmate

By Jennifer P. Rendon

A deadly encounter in broad daylight, possibly fueled by narcotics, took the life of a former convict at the hands of another ex-convict in Molo, Iloilo City, on April 10.

Zaldemir Helliga, 46, of Barangay Boulevard, Molo, was riding his motorcycle through an alley in the village when he was ambushed.

A witness reported that Gerardo Sofia Jr., also known as Bulldog, a resident of Zone 5, Barangay Boulevard, fired multiple shots at Helliga.

Police responding to the scene rushed Helliga to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival. The assailant fled immediately following the attack.

At the crime scene, investigators recovered seven empty shells from a caliber .9mm pistol.

“We have not ruled out other motives, but illegal drugs are the predominant angle we’re pursuing at this stage,” said Major Shella Mae Sangrines, the spokesperson for the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO). “The specifics of the possible double-cross are still unclear, including the identity of the perpetrator.”

The police are also examining any links between the homicide and the recent arrest of Sofia’s uncle, Melchor Tayco, 68, and his nephew, Efren Diaz, 35, who were apprehended in a drug bust on April 4 in Molo, where P816,000 worth of shabu was confiscated.

Helliga had a history with the law, having been arrested and jailed in 2016 for drug-related charges.

Sofia followed a year later, charged with similar offenses. Both men were eventually released from prison through plea bargaining agreements.