(First of Two Parts)
Helen, Maria Lourdes and Loida Rivera were sisters. But besides being related by blood, the women and two other siblings share a common horrific experience—they were all victims of violent crimes.
Helen and Loida survived their ordeals, but Maria Lourdes, or Baby, was not as lucky. She died in August 2009 when she and husband Alfredo Aragoncillo were held up by a gunman along the national road in Barangay Calumpang, Binangonan, Rizal.
A relative of Alfredo told The Manila Times the gunman fired several shots at their Honda CRV. Despite being grazed by a bullet on the left shoulder, Alfredo managed to step on the gas to leave the gunman behind. Baby, however, was wounded in the head and died instantly.
“I was a safety officer and my training helped me. The first rule is not to panic. Second is to know what to do next. So I sped up. But my wife was hit on the head when the gunman fired,” the relative quoted Alfredo.
Helen was the first to experience being held up years ago but she was not hurt. However, their cousin Paulino Gatolayao, was shot in the face while manning the gas station owned by the Riveras. Paulino survived.
Loida was the latest victim of a similar attack just last Monday. She and her husband, Daniel “Cocoy” de Castro, were on their way to the bank at around 10 a.m. when a gunman fired at them in Barangay Pag-asa near the boundary of the towns of Binangonan and Angono.
Witnesses interviewed by the Times claimed that road repairmen accosted the men who parked their motorcycle near them. One of the men told them that they were waiting for someone.
The two men were actually out to rob and kill the de Castro couple. They were armed with a .30 caliber carbine rifle, based on recovered spent shells and unused bullets at the crime scene.
One of the gunmen shot Cocoy, who was driving their Mitsubishi Pajero, at pointblank range. He was hit in the face and the suspects tried to finish him off as he tried to protect his wife, Loida.
The robbers carted away an undetermined amount of cash and valuables. Cocoy feigned to be dead and when the men left, he struggled to drive himself and his wife to the nearby Pag-Asa Hospital.
Cocoy died of his wounds but Loida is recovering from bullet wounds on the right cheek and right arm. She is under tight police guard.
The siblings belong to an affluent family in Rizal that runs several branches of a well-known oil firm. The gas business was put up by their father and mother and when they grew up, they were assigned to manage one gas station each.
Andy runs a gas station in Barangay Tayuman also in Binangonan along with their other sister, Maritess, was also a hold-up victim. He was hit in the back of the head with a pistol by the robber.
According to Maritess, their routine almost never changed making their movements easy to track predict.
“Para na kaming suki ng holdup [We seem to be favorite targets of holdups],” Maritess said at the wake of her brother-in-law on Tuesday.
The Times also learned that there were a string of similar cases in the area.
Not long ago, a personnel of a Caltex gasoline station was robbed and shot. On another occasion, the owner of a local grocery store was killed during a robbery.
Although Binangonan policemen conduct regular checkpoints in Tayuman, the robbers were so brazen that they attacked in broad daylight.
The municipalities of Angono and Binangonan were relatively peaceful and crime incidents were rare.
To be continued.