By Jennifer P. Rendon
A fish vendor who was celebrating his birthday was believed to have died instantly after he was repeatedly shot early morning of Jan 12, 2023 in a public market in City Proper, Iloilo City.
A still unidentified assailant killed Melvin Roque on his 46th birthday.
Witnesses claimed that Roque was at the back entrance of the Iloilo Terminal Market near the fish section in Barangay Flores, City Proper, around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday when a lone gunman approached him from behind.
After an initial gunshot that sent Roque to the pavement, the assailant fired finishing shots at the victim.
Witnesses failed to get a detailed description of the gunman except that he was wearing a red hoodie jacket and pair of pants. He immediately fled toward Barangay Tanza after the incident.
But witnesses said the gunman may have had a lookout.
Roque was rushed to Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
He succumbed to two gunshot injuries on the right side of his chest, two on the left side of his chest, two on the left arm, one on his neck, and one on the back of his body.
While police investigators are still facing a blank wall on the possible suspect, one of the strong motives they consider is illegal drugs.
Major Shella Mae Sangrines, Iloilo City Police Station 1 chief, said Roque was subjected to a police anti-narcotics operation on July 24, 2016.
The buy-bust was conducted three weeks after he surrendered through Oplan Tokhang.
Sangrines said Roque may have been released from jail after striking a plea bargaining agreement.
“Yesterday, he was talking about how happy and proud he was to be graduating from the community drug-rehabilitation program,” Sangrines said.
Roque also told friends and relatives that he won’t go back to peddling illegal drugs.
“He claimed to have reformed for his family and his children,” Sangrines said.
She noted, though, that the last joint operation they had with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) targeted the victim’s relatives.
The City Forensic Unit was able to recover six ammunition casings, two fired bullets, and a deformed bullet compatible with a caliber .9mm ammunition.