Riding-in-tandem assassins strike again

VIGAN CITY — Riding-in-tandem assassins strike again in Ilocos Sur.

Fish vendor Mario Espadero Refuerzo Jr., 22 from Barangay Pandan, Caoayan town is now in critical condition after being peppered with bullets Thursday morning along the national highway in Barangay Callaguip, Caoayan town.

Refuerzo, according to the Caoayan town police, together with fellow fish vendor Jerick Tindoc Ancheta, 25, were about to deliver fish to the Vigan City Public Market aboard their delivery tricycle traveling northbound along the highway when the gunmen who apparently tailed them overtook and began firing at the victims.

Refuerzo who sustained multiple gunshot wounds was rushed to the Ilocos Sur Provincial Hospital while Ancheta was unharmed.

Caoayan police chief Major Henry Garcia bared that the victim was involved in a stabbing incident in 2019 but the case was amicably settled. He said they are reviewing the CCTV footages in the area.

Killings perpetrated by riding-in-tandem assassins are some of the challenges facing newly installed Region 1 police director Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta who has ordered policemen in the northwestern region to ‘cleanse the streets of thugs.’

On February 8, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) police officer Corporal Reynold Reyes, 29, was shot and killed in Sual, Pangasinan while heading for work to the Baguio City. The cop was reportedly shot at least twice in the head along Sual’s “zigzag road.”

Last week, the regional police scored a win in the arrest of three suspects in the September 2020 midday ambush of former Pangasinan governor Amado Espino Jr. in San Carlos City, Pangasinan. The suspects were caught in their hideout at barangay Poblacion, San Juan, Batangas.

Albert Palisoc, Benjie Latonio Resultan, and Armando Mangrobong Frias Jr., were caught by Batangas policemen backed by Pangasinan police units.

Palisoc, Resultan and Frias, the 18th, 19th and 20th most wanted persons, respectively, in the Ilocos region, were among the 22 suspects in the Espino ambush and were also tagged as members of the “Raul Sison criminal group.”

Frias is also considered as a “high-value target” in the drug trade in the Ilocos region.

Two caliber .45 pistols, two magazines, 20 bullets, a Nissan Sentra car with plate No. ZFR 953 and a fake driver’s license were seized from the trio when cornered in their Batangas lair.

Espino survived the attack while his driver, Agapito Cuison and police escort, Staff Sgt. Richard Esguerra, died. Two other companions of Espino were hurt.

A recent Simultaneous Anti-Criminality Law Enforcement Operations (SACLEO) that focused on hunting criminals, hauled at least 242 wanted persons to various jails in the whole of the northwestern region.  Apart from the Espino suspects, 16 most wanted persons in the provincial level, 58 in the municipal and city levels and 165 others were caught in the operation.

“We are going to normalize the conduct of these operations, to serve justice to the victims and their families,” Peralta vowed citing that PNP Chief Debold Sinas wants all police units throughout the country to bring all wanted individuals to jail to answer for their crimes.

“I am directing all Provincial Directors and Chiefs of Police to continue doing these (operations) to maintain peace and order in the whole of Region 1,” Peralta ordered. ●