Riding-in-tandem guns down brother of Dec. 2019 victim

Less than two months after his elder brother was gunned down just a block away from their Virac home, a Virac resident who had been acquitted in an illegal drugs case was himself fatally shot by similar riding-in-tandem gunmen last Saturday evening.

According to the official report of the Virac police station, the victim, Samuel “Tamenz” Magtangob Besa Jr., 34, was on board his black Kawasaki Rouser with plate number EA-45715 bound for the family home at Salvacion at about 10:08 P.M. of Feb. 8, 2020 when one of two unidentified suspects on board a motorcycle shot him several times using a firearm of unknown caliber.

It added the victim was rushed to Eastern Bicol Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending physician. The suspects immediately fled towards an unknown direction after the incident, the police said.

Stating that capital town’s police is conducting further investigation and hot pursuit operation for the possible identification and apprehension of the suspects, the Catanduanes PNP appealed to the public to report to Virac MPS or to its hotline numbers 09985986027 or 09183242541 any information that would help in solving the case.

It is claimed that Besa had just turned right on the corner of Blossom Restaurant towards their house just 50 meters away when the gunman began firing at him with a baby Armalite.

Residents said about 10 shots in all were heard during the short stretch of time, with Besa almost making it to a narrow alley beside the barangay chapel that led to the boulevard. But the motorcycle of the critically injured victim hit the fence, causing him to fall to the ground just 10 meters or so from the Besa family home.

The helmet-wearing suspects allegedly stopped at the corner before going left towards the vicinity of the Virac Eastern Hardware and disappearing from sight, leaving behind shell casings on the ground.

It was at the other end of the same block on Dec. 16, 2019 that his elder brother, Marcus Daxenos “Dax” Magtangob Besa, 39, an employee at the capitol’s Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO), was shot once in the head on board his car by a baby Armalite-wielding man who, along with his driver, was on board a red Kawasaki Bajaj motorcycle that suddenly stopped beside the driver’s side.

The Dax case has remained unsolved for lack of witnesses but a police officer blamed the cold-blooded murder on “onsehan sa droga” similar to the motives cited by the PNP in numerous extra-judicial killings of drug suspects in the country.

Just last month, Caramoran Councilor Zaldy Idanan, 57, was shot in the back by two men onboard a motorcycle while he was driving home just 200 meters away from a police detachment in Sabloyon last Jan. 21, 2020.

Idanan, a surrenderee during Oplan Tokhang and drug rehab treatment graduate, is also suspected of having engaged in illegal activities in the past.

In May 2005, Zaldy, then 42, was arrested by the police in Tabaco City as the No. 1 Most Wanted Person in Catanduanes due to charges of carnapping, robbery, and less serious physical injuries as well as illegal possession of hot lumber and as the prime suspect in the ambush-slaying of a Pandan police officer who had led the seizure of the lumber in 2003.

On the other hand, Tamenz had been sentenced by the Regional Trial Court to life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.00 after getting caught in a buy-bust operation in November 2013 right in front of his home.

He was already serving time at the New Bilibid Prison in June 2014 when the Court of Appeals overturned his conviction due to the police’s breach of procedure during the operation.

The CA said Besa was not present during the inventory of the evidence seized from him and that the marking of inventory took three hours from the buy-bust operation, with the seized sachet of shabu remaining in the hands of a civilian informant for the whole duration.

In 2014, following a police raid on his compound in Danicop, Dax Besa was arrested and charged for possession of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia, maintenance of a drug den and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

In July last year, the RTC allowed him to plea bargain, subsequently sentencing him to a maximum of one-year imprisonment for the gun possession as well as to pay a P10,000 fine.

For the illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia cases, he was ordered to undergo six months of rehabilitation at Malinao Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Albay as well as imprisonment ranging from two to three years, as well as a fine of P10,000.

He was scheduled to start the rehab treatment when the riding-in-tandem gunmen came calling last December.

He and his brother Tamenz are the second and third fatalities in the war against illegal drugs, the first being the Davaoeño who was shot dead inside his Virac home by a team largely composed of officers from the regional PNP command.

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