BACOLOD City – An elder brother of former councilor Ricardo “Cano” Tan was ambushed by motorcycle-riding gunmen at around 9:45 a.m. yesterday on CL Montelibano Avenue, Greens Ville 1 Subdivision, Barangay Estefania.
The 70-year-old businessman Robert Tan, a resident of Barangay Villamonte, died instantly.
The attack on Robert was staged a year after younger brother Ricardo – whom President Rodrigo Duterte linked to illegal drugs – and wife Anita were ambushed on Dec. 14, 2018 in Purok Tagaytay, Barangay Alangilan.
Ricardo and Anita were unharmed but this left the then councilor shaken. He took a sick leave from the Sangguniang Panlungsod until the expiration of his term as councilor on June 30 this year.
The Tan couple owned the popular Campuestohan Highland Resort in Talisay City, Negros Occidental. Following the ambush, Ricardo disappeared from public view and his whereabouts as of this writing remained unknown.
Robert was driving his Nissan Sentra sedan when ambushed. According to witnesses, the gunmen fired at him six times. The car then crashed against the rear of a pickup.
As of this writing, the gunmen’s identities remained unknown.
Probers were yet to determine if the ambush on Robert was related to the unsuccessful ambush on Ricardo. The motive was also unclear.
An alarmed Councilor Al Victor Espino, chairperson of the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s committee on peace and order, urged Mayor Evelio Leonardia to hold a security meeting with the Bacolod City Police Office.
The ambush on Robert was the latest in a series of attacks here by motorcycle-riding gunmen, said Espino, some victims of which were businessmen.
Clearly, he said, this kind of incidents should not be dismissed as isolated.
Just this Dec. 3, businessman Ontao Sacar was found dead in Barangay Mandalagan hours after he was abducted in Barangay 8.
Probers linked Sacar to illegal drugs but his family denied this.
President Duterte linked Tan to the illegal drug trade during a private birthday party of an official of Vallacar Transit, Inc. at a hotel in the city in January 2019.
Tan had not commented on the issue since.
The Police Regional Office 6 has acknowledged that drug trafficking remains a problem in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental. Just this October, President Duterte reassigned controversial Police Major Jovie Espenido from Northern Mindanao to Western Visayas.
Espenido led the drug raid that killed Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, his wife and several others in July 2017.
He was the police chief in Albuera, Leyte when then mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was detained for charges of illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms, was killed in his cell in November 2016.
Espenido promised to uphold the rule of law despite President Duterte’s daring remark, allowing him to kill drug suspects.
In a television interview he said he would not use Duterte’s pronouncement as a license to kill.
“At least binigyan tayo ng karapatan ni Presidente. Iyon ang pinaka the best na high morale. Pero ganoon pa man, tayo ang nasa ground. We have our mandate sa batas to protect the lives and property of the people,” said Espenido.
In a speech on January 2019, President Duterte said he assigned Espenido, who got a one-rank promotion from Major to Lieutenant Colonel, to Bacolod because it was “badly hit” by illegal drugs.
“Bacolod is badly hit now. I placed Espenido there. I said, go there, don’t be afraid to kill everybody. Start killing there. Dalawa na lang tayo pa preso,” President Duterte said./PN