ILOCOS SUR – A 42-year-old man was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Barangay Sta. Monica, Magsingal, Ilocos Sur on Thursday.
Lawyer Melver Tolentino was shot several times by two men on a motorcycle while he was refueling his vehicle at a gasoline station.
He was rushed to the hospital in front of the gasoline station, but died while receiving medical attention.
Police investigators recovered 21 spent bullet shells at the scene, which they believed were from a 5.56mm rifle, based on initial impressions.
The authorities also found a caliber .45 handgun, an M16 rifle, and ammunition inside Tolentino's car.
On Friday, the police formed a special investigation task group to investigate the killing, and find out if the attack was related to a case the lawyer was handling.
"Pinag-aaralan natin if job-related ito. Baka may mga hawak siyang kaso na nagkaroon siya ng problema. Titignan namin ang files ng mga kasong hawak niya (We are investigating if the killing was job-related. He may have encountered a problem with one of his cases. We will look through his case files)," said Magsingal police chief Inspector Arcadio Viloria.
"Idadaan din natin sa pag-aaral ang mga baril na nakuha sa sasakyan nito, maging ang cellphone niya. Baka may mga communication siya doon na pwede nating pagkunan ng lead (We will examine the guns we found in his vehicle, and even his cellphone. We may find a lead in his communication)," said Ilocos Sur police Officer-in-Charge Senior Superintenent Tito Dacpano.
Tolentino owned a law firm in Vigan City, and also served as legal consultant of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Vigan City for the past two years.
Vigan City Vice Mayor Lourdes Baquiran said the whole city council was deeply saddened by what happened to Toletino, whom he described as a hardworking and effective legal consultant.
"We are all very sad sa nangyari sa kanya. Napakabait, matalino at matulungin siya. He is there always kapag may mga legal issues sa session namin or public hearings (We are all very sad at what happened to him. He was kind, smart, and helpful. He was always there when we had legal issues during our sessions or public hearings)," Vice Mayor Lourdes Baquiran said.
As of this writing, the victim's family declined to comment on the incident.