MURDER AND SHOOTOUTS IN THE PHILIPPINES

MURDER IN THE PHILIPPINES

The intentional homicide rate in Philippines was 5.39 per 100,000 people in 2009. In 2012, the rate was 8.13 per 100,000 people. Intentional homicides are estimates of unlawful homicides purposely inflicted as a result of domestic disputes, interpersonal violence, violent conflicts over land resources, intergang violence over turf or control, and predatory violence and killing by armed groups. [Source: indexmundi.come, UN Office on Drugs and Crime's International Homicide Statistics database]

There were 3,000 murders and homicides in the first three months of 1996—nearly double murder rate in the United States. Manila has the highest murder rate of any major city in Asia. In the late 1990s The murder rate in Manila was 30.5 murders per 100,000 people, compared to 8.7 in Taipei, 7.6 in Bangkok, 2.5 in Beijing, 1.7 in Tokyo and 70 in Washington D.C.

Many street killings in the Philippines, including those of political activists and journalists, have been carried out by motorcycle-riding gunmen. Shootouts and car chases are also common in Filipino killings. In April 2003, a police officer and five gunmen were killed in a Manila shoot out. The gun battle took place in a crowded suburban neighborhood after police showed up to check out a report of armed men. In the early 2000s, 13 people were wounded in a shootout between police and armed criminals during morning rush hour on one of Manila’s busiest streets.

Over the years people have been killed in argument over parking space, for banging too loudly on an ATM machine and for staring on a bus. Lawyers and judges have been targeted and murdered. In August 2004, man and his two sons were arrested on the island of Palawan for reportedly killing a neighbor and then eating some of his body parts. The neighbor had raped a female relative a a dance. The killers ate his ears, tongue and arms after roasting them over a fire. “They stabbed him repeatedly, cut of the man’s ears, pulled out his tongue and ate,” a witness said who told police the killers forced him to eat part of the victims arm.

Killers on Motorcycles in the Philippines

According to Human Rights Watch: The overwhelming majority of death squad killings reported in the Philippines are carried out by gunmen operating in pairs riding on motorcycles. Philippine authorities have described such murders as “riding in tandem” killings. Extrajudicial, targeted killings by these motorcycle-riding gunmen have become so common across the Philippines that authorities have responded with special traffic control measures as a means to identify and arrest the perpetrators. In some cases, police erect roadblocks on major streets and perform body searches of motorcyclists for weapons. Public concerns about such killings have prompted proposals for legislation aimed specifically to prevent such murders. The Manila city government at one point tried to more tightly regulate or to outright ban the use of motorcycles to prevent further killings. [Source: Human Rights Watch, May 21, 2014 <>]

One child whose friends were killed by the death squad and who himself felt threatened told Human Rights Watch: Men on motorcycles would stop by the shop or across the street and just look around. Many of these motorcycles have plates, but when they are out to kill, they wrap the plates with [a] plastic bag. <>

Philippine National Police statistics issued in 2013 indicated that in 2011 alone, motorcycle-riding gunmen murdered 2,089 people nationwide, an increase from 1,819 killings the year before. Police have attributed these “riding in tandem killings” to the growing problem of contract killings or “guns for hire” operations in the Philippines. <>

The National Bureau of Investigation has linked a few of these contract killings to some members of state security forces. In January 2014, it exposed the activities of a group of police officers in Batangas province south of Manila who hired themselves out as paid killers for between 50,000 pesos (US$1,108) to 150,000 pesos (US$3,320) per murder. In Tagum City, the price of a contract killing can cost as little as 5,000 pesos (about US$110). <>

See Separate Article DEATH SQUADS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Filipino Brothers Kill And Eat Mother To Ward Off Evil Spirit

In February 2014, Three sons butchered their mother with machetes and ate her raw internal organs in an apparent ritualistic killing in Ampatuan, Philippines. One of the sons claimed they performed the ghoulish deed to try and rid of spirits which had possessed their mother. the Huffington Post reported: “Police in the Philippines have arrested three brothers in a gruesome case involving the alleged torture and murder of their own mother. The three brothers -- Dante Amil, 35, Paroy Amil, 21, and Ibrahim Amil, 18 -- are accused of tying up their 56-year-old mother, Akrima Amil, killing her and then butchering her with machetes, according to the Philippine Star. [Source: Huffington Post, February 5, 2014 *-*]

“Investigators told the paper that the suspects ate parts of the victim’s body raw. “One of her relatives said the victim’s eyes had been taken; her throat was slashed, and innards were missing -- they said these appeared to have been eaten by the suspects,” local official Bai Suraida Mamaluba told the Philippines' News5. *-*

“Neighbors called police after they heard "horrific" screams coming from Amil's home in Ampatuan for several days. Police found the woman's body drained of blood, with several internal organs removed. The men deny killing their mother, but said they had ritually burned her in order to cure her of an illness that they believed was brought on by an evil spirit, according to Philnews.com. Criminal charges against the brothers are pending. Police said they have no prior criminal records and will undergo mental health evaluations. They will also be tested for drug use. *-*

Philippines Murder Suspect Caught on Camera

In 2011, Associated Press reported: “Police in the Philippines investigating the fatal New Year's Eve shooting of a local official did not have to look further than the last photograph he took. It led to the arrest of two suspects. The picture, taken outside the man's house in Manila, shows a man aiming his gun from behind the victim's smiling three-member family, seconds before he was shot. The relatives – Reynaldo Dagsa's wife, daughter and mother-in-law – are seen standing beside the family car, which has its lights on, and the gunman, wearing a baseball cap, is bracing himself against the vehicle, pointing his gun at Dagsa. His face is slightly obscured by the gun. In the right-hand corner of the photograph is a man police identified as the assassin's lookout. The car was parked along an alley outside the Dagsas' house. [Source: Associated Press, January 4, 2011 +++]

“Police said Dagsa was shot seconds after the photo was taken and died of wounds by the time he reached hospital. His family gave police the photo, which ran on the Philippine Daily Inquirer's front page. Caloocan city police chief, Jude Santos, said a man identified as the gunman in the picture was arrested yesterday. His accomplice was arrested in a separate raid in Manila the same day. +++

“Santos said the main suspect was a car thief who was out on bail and likely sought revenge against Dagsa for ordering his arrest last year. Dagsa's wife and daughter told reporters he had asked them to wake him up before the stroke of midnight so he could join in the usually noisy New Year's Eve street revelry that comes with lots of firecrackers. The family members said they did not hear a gunshot because the firecrackers were exploding all around them. They only saw Dagsa falling to the ground after he was hit and they rushed him to hospital. +++

Actor Playing Gunman Shot Dead in Philippines

In 2010, a masked Filipino actor in a British film was shot dead in the central Philippines by a village watchman who allegedly mistook the actor for a real assassin. Associated Press reported: “Watchman Eddie Cuizon tried to accost Filipino actor Kirk Abella, then shot him as the actor was directed to speed away on a motorcycle with a masked driver, said community police chief Alexis Relado of Cebu City's Parian district. Cuizon, 52, told police he had been woken up by a concerned citizen who reported the presence of armed men in his community. [Source: Associated Press, November 1, 2010 <^>]

“He told police he saw two masked men on a motorcycle and approached them but they sped away and he stumbled as he tried to stop them, injuring his knee. He fired at Abella when the actor pulled out a gun, which turned out to be made of plastic, Relado said. Abella, 32, was one of the actors in the movie Going Somewhere, being shot by British theatre and film director Alan Lyddiard in Cebu, Relado said. <^>

Lyddiard's website says the movie is about a fictional documentary film-maker's travails in Cebu, where he plans to make a movie about the first circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan, whose voyage to the Philippines led to its colonisation by Spain. Magellan was killed by a native chief on Mactan island near Cebu in 1521. Neither Lyddiard nor any members of his crew, including a Filipino woman who had arranged for police assistance with traffic and crowd control in Parian, could be reached for comment. Cuizon will be charged with homicide and for violation of a gun ban, Relado said. <^>

Man Armed with Knife Kills 10 in Philippines

In 2007, a man armed with a 21-inch-long knife killed 10 people, including seven children, and wounded 14 others in a rampage in central Philippine. Associated Press reported: “The man first attacked and wounded five members of his cousin’s family with whom he lived in a remote village outside Calbayog city in central Samar province at around 2 a.m. local time, said Senior Police Officer Jessie Gianan, desk officer at the Calbayog police station. Two of the cousin’s sons, aged 5 and 7, died later at a hospital, he said. [Source: Associated Press, June 2, 2007 */*]

“The man then barged into a neighbor’s house, where he stabbed and hacked to death a 37-year-old pregnant woman and her three daughters and two sons, aged 1 to 9. Two daughters survived, Gianan said by telephone. He entered two other homes where five people were sleeping, killing two men, and then returned to a wake where he had been drinking earlier and attacked everyone in his path, Gianan said. A total of 14 people were wounded, he said. */*

“The man then surrendered to another villager who turned him over to the authorities. It was not immediately clear what prompted the rampage. The pregnant woman’s husband apparently quarreled earlier with the assailant at the wake. The husband, a fisherman, was at the Calbayog fishing port when the attack occurred, a niece of the woman said by telephone from a local funeral parlor. She gave no other details. */*

Eight Killed in 'Grudge' Shooting Spree South of Manila

In May 2008, a man with a grudge stole a rifle and ammunition from his boss and went on a shooting spree in the Philippines, killing eight people and wounding six others, most of them children, Associated Press reported: “Five of the dead were aged between four and 12. They were sleeping inside their homes in Calamba town in Laguna province, south of Manila, when the attacker opened fire with an M-16 rifle, said Laguna provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Felipe Rojas. Chief Superintendent Ricardo Padilla identified the suspect as Adan Defiesta, caretaker of a vegetable farm in Calamba, who allegedly stole the rifle and eight magazines of ammunition from the owner, a retired policeman. [Source: Associated Press, May 19, 2008 /*\]

“A witness told investigators he begged Defiesta not to kill him, Mr Padilla said. The same witness quoted Defiesta as saying he was upset that people in the town were making fun of him, according to Mr Padilla. It was not clear who or what provoked him. Mr Padilla said police launched a massive manhunt for Defiesta. Six people were wounded, among them a five-year-old and an eight-year-old, police said. "When we interviewed the wounded, they said they just woke to the sound of gunfire and that they were hit," said nurse Rey Enriquez, who was treating the casualties at a nearby hospital. The killings came three days after robbers barged into a bank in the same province and shot dead 10 people in the head, triggering nationwide outrage. /*\

Grenade Kills Eight at Philippine Birthday Party

An unhappy guest killed himself and seven others and injured 23 when he accidentally set off a grenade at a birthday party in the western Philippines. Reuters reported: “Regional police superintendent Napoleon Cachuela said the guest had been barred from the celebration in Rizal town on the island of Palawan after becoming unruly while carrying a gun and he later returned with a grenade. The grenade went off in a scuffle with other guests, all members of the Commando Brotherhood, a local group that idolises the military. [Source: Reuters, March 17, 2007]

"This is the result of a simple misunderstanding between a group of drunken persons," said Cachuela. He said the Commando Brotherhood was one of a number of Philippine organisations that like to model themselves on the armed forces. "These groups like to wear fatigue uniforms and combat boots. Some even bear weapons but hide them from the eyes of local authorities," he said. [Ibid]

Shootout near Manila leaves 16 dead as robbery suspects go 'berserk'

In December 2008, a robbery gang armed with automatic weapons and grenades fired on Philippine police officers who were tailing them, leaving at least 16 people dead in a fierce shootout in a Manila suburb. Associated Press reported: Officers were following the suspects when the gunmen sensed the surveillance and opened fire, triggering the gunfight late Friday near a residential subdivision in the suburban city of Paranaque, metropolitan Manila police Chief Leopoldo Bataoil said. He said the suspects, some armed with M-16 rifles fitted with grenade launchers, thought they had been cornered and fired at everyone in sight. "When they found out they were being trailed ... they went berserk," he said. "They fired all around, including at a flammable tanker beside a warehouse." [Source: Associated Press, December 6, 2008 \+\]

“Among those killed were 12 suspected gang members and a police officer. Three people nearby, including a man and his seven-year-old daughter in a car passing through the area, were also killed. Police initially reported that five civilians were killed, but two turned out to be gunmen whose bodies were dumped on the road, national police Director General Jesus Verzosa said. Three police officers were also wounded, including one who was in critical condition, Bataoil said. He said at least three of the gunmen were able to escape in a car they commandeered after firing a grenade at a gatehouse at the entrance to the residential subdivision, wounding two guards. "I think that my men underestimated the firepower of the suspects," Verzosa said. \+\

“Bataoil said investigators believe the assailants belonged to a violent gang whose members have posed as police officers, adding that two of the slain gunmen were found wearing police-style bulletproof vests. The group has been blamed for killing a bank teller, as well as two armoured-truck guards who were picking up money from a bank on the University of the Philippines campus last month. \+\

Philippines Shooting Rampage Leaves Eight Dead near Manila

In January 2013, a man with domestic problems fatally shot eight people, including a pregnant woman and two children, after taking alcohol and drugs in a rampage in Kawit township, about 16 kilometres south of Manila, Cavitt hat ended when he was shot dead by police. Associated Press reported: “Ronald Bae, who was killed in the shootout with responding police, had been on a "drug and alcohol binge" with his friends since Monday, drinking and taking methamphetamine, provincial Gov. Jonvic Remulla said. He said Bae left a store where he and his friends were drinking but later returned with the caretaker of his house in Kawit and began the shooting spree in the surrounding neighborhood. The man had left his Kawit neighborhood about a year ago after he lost an election for village chairman. He returned Monday because of a "marital problem" with his wife, whom he had left before New Year's, Remulla said. [Source: Associated Press, January 4, 2013 *=*]

“It was not immediately clear why Bae went on the rampage. Police investigator Arnulfo Lopez said residents heard Bae threatening to kill the caretaker if he did not reload Bae's pistol during the shooting. "He just shot at anyone he saw," Remulla said. "You could see that these were really acts of a madman." Among the victims was a 7-year-old girl who was shot inside her home. The girl's 2-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother, who was Bae's godson, were wounded and in critical condition. No details were immediately available about the other wounded. The pregnant woman died after being shot in the stomach, Remulla said. Her 6-month-old fetus also died. *=*

“GMA television reported that the woman made a frantic call for help to her mother, Baby Alberto, who heard screams and gunshots. "She said, `Please, don't! Please don't!"' Alberto quoted her daughter as pleading with the gunman. She said she was found dead in the bathroom hugging her 3-year-old daughter, who also died. Edwin Lacorte, an uncle of the children who were shot, said he could hear them screaming from his home nearby. "I could not do anything," he said. "I heard the shots." *=*

“Lacorte said he later saw bullet-riddled cushions that the children had apparently used to protect themselves during the attack. Lacorte said that Bae soon approached his house but he fled with his wife and their four children, two grandchildren and three nieces. "He was shooting at us as we were running," he said. At least eight other people were wounded Remulla said. The violence happened days after the death of a 7-year-old girl who was hit in the head by a stray bullet during New Year's Eve revelry in Manila sparked public criticism over lax gun control in the Philippines. Friday's rampage fueled pressure for more assertive action by authorities to deal with unlicensed firearms. *=*

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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