The Special Investigation Task Force (SITF) looking into the Monday assassination of alleged Iloilo drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr. and his wife Merriam said there was only one gunman who fired shots at the couple.
Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman, said a reenactment of the crime by SITF-Odicta established that the incident happened at 1:15 a.m. on Monday and the lone gunman used a caliber 45 pistol.
“Meriam was shot first with apparent fatal result. Melvin Sr. was able to run a few steps but was hit by the succeeding fire, fell down and crawled a few feet across the covered walkway before losing consciousness,” Chief Supt. Jose Gentiles, Western Visayas Police Office regional director, said in a message to reporters at Camp Crame, the PNP’s main headquarters, in Quezon City.
Based on initial findings, Gentiles added, the gunman’s pistol jammed as indicated by an ejected live round and magazine recovered at the crime scene.
He said responding authorities were from the Aklan provincial police who were at the time putting up a checkpoint near vital installations such as the Caticlan Jetty Port.
“Responders arrived within five minutes after receiving the call. Two responders carried the immobile body of Merriam and loaded her onto a passenger cab. Two other responders assisted by an unidentified male person carried the unconscious Melvin and placed him on the left rear seat of the [police]covered pick-up,” according to Gentiles.
The SITF-Odicta, led by Gentiles and Senior Supt. John Mitchell Jamili, director of Aklan Provincial Police Office, on Wednesday conducted a reenactment of the twin killings at Caticlan Jetty Port in Malay, Aklan.
Jamili belied allegation that Melvin Sr. was handcuffed by the policemen who first responded to the crime scene, saying their objective was to save lives and bring the Odicta couple to the hospital.
He said the first responding team did not know the identities of the victims and they only came to know them upon arrival at the hospital.
“The responding [policemen]cannot [issue]any [statement on the]medical status of the victims but only the attending physician [can]. Also, we are not tolerating any mischief or wrongdoing of our fellow police officers” Jamili added.
Autopsies conducted on the couple showed that Melvin Sr. sustained four gunshot wounds in the head, chest, buttocks and leg, while Merriam died from a lone gunshot wound in the back.
The autopsies indicated that Melvin Sr. and Merriam were shot from a distance of more than three feet.
Odicta, also known as “Dragon,” was on the watch list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as one of the biggest illegal drug financiers in Western Visayas, particularly in Iloilo province and its capital Iloilo City.
The couple wwere passing through the Caticlan Jetty Port canopy upon embarking from a ro-ro ship from Batangas Port when the killer attacked.
Carlos said the Western Visayas Police Office believed that one of the possible motives behind the assassination was the Odictas allegedly disclosing a list of drug traffickers in the region to Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno.
“The region’s top cop also noted that aside from the said motives, other possible masterminds on Panay Island are afraid that their past association with the victims will spell their doom,” he added.
The regional police information officer, Supt. Gilbert Gorero, hinted that the couple could have been double-crossed after they went to see PNP Director General Ronald de la Rosa at Camp Crame last August 25.
The Odictas’ lawyer, Gualberto Cataluna, dismissed the allegation on a drug trade matrix submitted to Sueno, saying no such document was given to the Interior secretary.
Tight police security was placed around the Odicta house in Barangay Malipayon and at the adjacent village of Tanza Esperanza where Melvin’s brother, Noel Odicta, is the barangay (village) chairman.
The police checkpoint was specifically requested by the Odicta family, Gorero said, in anticipation of an influx of drug figures in the region and of police officers.
A driver of the Odictas’ taxi fleet who requested not to be named said their boss is the most generous person he had ever known, in the mold of Santa Claus and Robin Hood.
Odicta is known to fund hospital bills of his neighbors, workers and their children and gives them gifts during Christmas and birthdays.
A shuttle van driver also said that perhaps, there will be drastic changes in the illegal drug trade in Iloilo and will diminish if not eradicated without their boss.
He wished that flourishing of illegal drugs will stop and they could go back to work peacefully.