EDITORIAL - Permanently silenced

Two months ago, gas station owner Cristina de Roxas was shot dead in Malolos City shortly after she attended a court hearing. De Roxas had filed criminal charges against convicted carjacker Raymond Dominguez for the theft of her sport utility vehicle.

Last Sunday morning, a key witness against Raymond and his brother Roger was found dead together with two other men in Dasmariñas, Cavite. The victims were gagged with masking tape, bound together with cable wire, and shot dead with a .45 caliber handgun – similar to the way car dealer Venson Evangelista was executed.

In January last year, Alfred Mendiola had posed as a car buyer and lured Evangelista to accompany him in a test drive of a Toyota Land Cruiser that the dealer was selling. Evangelista’s charred remains were found several days later in Nueva Ecija. Mendiola, following his arrest, identified the Dominguez brothers as the ringleaders in the carjacking operation and kidnapping of Evangelista. The brothers are still under investigation for a similar execution of car dealer Emerson Lozano and his co-employee Ernani Sensil in January last year.

Last year, Mendiola narrowly escaped harm when a grenade was lobbed at his detention cell at the Malolos City Jail in Bulacan – said to be one of the Dominguez brothers’ areas of operation apart from Pampanga and Metro Manila. This time, assailants succeeded in permanently silencing the star witness. At least Raymond is already starting to serve a 30-year sentence at the National Penitentiary following his conviction last month for the theft of a Toyota Fortuner in Marilao, Bulacan in January 2010.

With the latest killings, seven murders have been linked so far to the carjacking operations of the Dominguez brothers, who are both behind bars, with Roger still on trial. Who has the resources outside detention plus the brazenness to carry out more murders, apart from a grenade attack on a city jail?

Evangelista’s relatives have openly voiced suspicions about the involvement of a police general and several other police officers in the carjacking operations. Considering recent developments, the suspicion is not groundless.

President Aquino should step in and hold specific officials accountable for any more harm that will come to witnesses and complainants against the Dominguez brothers. At the same time, he must tell law enforcement agencies to go after any cop protecting the two brothers. Unless the coddlers of carjackers are neutralized, there will be more summary executions, and more stolen vehicles. - (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)

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