WHO WANTS TANS DEAD? Cops probe link of ex-councilor’s ambush to brother’s slay

Police Colonel Henry Biñas, director of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) during a press conference at the BCPO headquarters Monday. (Glazyl Y. Masculino)

By: Glazyl Y. Masculino, Jennifer P. Rendon, and Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) is investigating if the previous ambush attempt on the life of a former councilor here is connected to the killing of his elder brother over the weekend.

In a press briefing at BCPO headquarters Monday, Colonel Henry Biñas, BCPO director, said they are still gathering evidence on the killing of 70-year-old Robert Tan, who was gunned down at Barangay Estefania here last Sunday.

Tan was killed after his younger brother, former Councilor Ricardo Tan and his wife survived an ambush at Barangay Alangilan here in December 2018. The former city official and his family were reported to have left the country after the incident.

“We still have limited information,” Biñas said, adding that they still have no “persons of interest” in the case.

He said they are exploring all angles in the case including illegal drugs, business, and personal. But he refused to elaborate to prevent hampering the investigation.

Tan’s younger brother Ricardo was earlier tagged in the illegal drug trade by President Rodrigo Duterte, an allegation which the former city official already denied.

Biñas said that he cannot tell if the victim was included in any drugs list as such information is highly confidential.

On Dec 15, 2019, Tan was driving a Nissan Sentra sedan on his way home when he was ambushed by two unidentified armed men on a motorcycle.

Biñas said the attack was planned, though the victim had no previous threats to his life.

Police recovered from the scene several bullet casings of .45-caliber ammunition.

Biñas said they are coordinating with the Tan family to get more information which could help them in the investigation.

They are also studying a copy of a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage to help them determine the perpetrators who were wearing helmets when the crime was committed.

He said they cannot yet tell if the gunmen were hired killers. But they are trying to determine if the same perpetrators are also involved in the ambush on Ricardo Tan.

Meanwhile, Biñas said he has no personal knowledge of an alleged special order to neutralize suspected drug lords or high value targets here.

“We could not discount such possibility but the instruction we received was to neutralize those who resist arrest in legitimate police operations,” he added.

He again reiterated that the two killings here this month, including the brutal murder of a drug surrenderer here, were not considered alarming.

He said that police are still on top of the situation to provide peace and order to the people of Bacolod.

Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 in Iloilo City is also looking into the series of killings in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental in the past two weeks.

“We regard every human life as important. All of these killings are being investigated,” Lt. Col. Joem Malong, PRO-6 spokesperson said.

Malong said investigation is still going on to determine if the “summary executions” are related.

Bacolod City recorded two killings since Dec. 3, involving businessmen Ontao Sacar and Robert “Kaishek” Tan.

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO) has recorded 13 deaths.

Sacar, 66, was taken by force on Dec. 2 and his body was found the following day. A placard bearing the words, “Wag tularan BIGTIME PUSHER AKO,” was found near his body.

The 70-year old Tan is the recent victim in the spate of killings in the said part of the region.

Meanwhile, Malong said five bodies were found in Negros Occidental this month – Kabankalan City and Sagay City on Dec. 10; La Carlota City on Dec. 11; Valladolid on Dec. 13; and Murcia on Dec. 14.

The province also recorded two deaths due to stabbing, four due to shooting; one each due to hacking and suicide.

The business community in Bacolod City had condemned Tan’s murder.

“Killings are eyesores… not only for business but for the whole community… it affects our city’s liveability attributes,” Frank Carbon, executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said.

Carbon also said that “as what we (business sector) have been saying… Negros Occidental and Bacolod are relatively peaceful for the last many years.”

“We have not experienced this kind of killings. We cannot make sense why these killings? The sector is very worried and wary. We hope our local officials and our police force could come out and make some statements to assure the public that they are in control,” he added.

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia also ordered the BCPO to conduct in-depth investigations on the series of killings here.

Leonardia said Monday that he is also willing to sit down with the business community who have expressed concern over the killings.