Charges of murder and frustrated murder were filed by the police against Vhon Martin Tanto at the Department of Justice on Saturday, a day after his arrest in Masbate.
The former Army reservist is now locked up at the Manila Police District (MPD) jail.
Tanto was given until August 2 to submit his counter affidavit. It was learned that Trixie Cruz-Angeles will be his lawyer but MPD Director Senior Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel said he has not been informed that Cruz-Angeles will represent Tanto.
“We will know by August 2,” he said.
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda Acosta said her office will represent the relatives of Garalde and Rossel Bondoc, who was hit by a stray bullet. Bondoc is recovering at a hospital in Manila.
Tanto was brought to the MPD early yesterday.
For the first time, he met Garalde’s mother Malou and common-law-wife Rei Eleazar with whom he had two children aged 13 and 2.
Mrs. Garalde said all she wanted was justice for her son.
Eleazar, an English teacher, admitted that she had nothing but hatred for the former Army reservist and that she wanted to get even.
“I wanted to ask him why he used his gun. It was not fair to use so much force. My husband made amends when he extended his hand for a friendly shake after the fistfight,” she told The Manila Times.
The victim was on his way to a gaming internet shop when he had a heated altercation with Tanto.
“His officemate called me and asked why my husband had not arrived yet. I called him and a policeman answered the phone telling me that he was dead already,” Eleazar, 34, said.
Eleazar thanked netizens who posted the video of Mark’s shooting on July 25.
“If not for the viral video, this case won’t be given enough attention by authorities,” she said.
Philippine National Police chief Ronaldo ‘Bato” Dela Rosa presented Tanto to the media early yesterday.
“You lost during your fistfight that’s why you went berserk,” De la Rosa told Tanto.
Don’t emulate me
Tanto remained silent during his booking proceedings but he gave a brief statement when he faced the media.
He said he had no intention of killing Garalde.
He claimed he lost his temper because Garalde’s arrogance.
The confrontation started when Tanto’s car was nearly hit by Garalde’s bicycle along Vergara Street, a few meters away from P. Casal Street where the fistfight and shooting took place.
“I rolled down the window and said sorry. I told him to be more careful and that bikers should keep to the roadside. He suddenly cursed me. I asked him to stop cursing, but he did not stop,” Tanto said in a television interview.
‘’When he said ‘you want me to smash your windows?’ that was the time I lost my cool. I was already bloody at that time because he hit me with a hard object. I was already dizzy,” he added.
“I already apologized but he kept on cursing me. We fought, he had the upperhand because he was taller. That can be seen on the CCTV. I don’t know what he was holding but it hit my face and that made me dizzy. I felt weak. He only let go of me when I stopped moving,” Tanto said.
He then gave an advice to motorists.
“Always keep your cool. Do not emulate me.”
The PNP chief said the CCTV footage, the gun used to kill Garlade and the affidavits of witnesses, including those taken from Masbate policemen who arrested Tanto will all be used as evidence.
Dela Rosa also thanked media for increasing the level of awareness that resulted in the participation of private individuals in tracking down Tanto from Quiapo, Manila to Nueva Vizcaya, and eventually to Milagros town in Masbate province (an island south of Manila).
Dela Rosa said the P200,000 reward money offered by Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan also helped a lot.
He urged motorists to observe road courtesy and to always remain cool in the middle of traffic jams.
He called on gun owners to be responsible, saying guns are used for self-defense and as a last resort.
In a related development, Estrada said he is considering putting up dedicated bike lanes in some Manila streets.
“There may be areas here where we could install bike lanes. We’ll look into it,” Estrada said. “Biking is a healthy exercise and is environment-friendly; less use of motor vehicles, the lesser air pollution is.”
The mayor acknowledged that the traffic congestion in the city can be blamed on narrow roads.
Estrada’s idea has the support of the Manila Police District-Traffic Enforcement Unit (MPD-TEU).
MPD-TEU chief Supt. Olivia Sagaysay said any measure aimed at decongesting Manila’s streets is welcome.
“One less car in the street is a huge reduction in the volume of traffic,” Sagaysay said.