Tondo village chief: Killings won't happen if people stayed home at night
MANILA, Philippines – The chairperson of a Tondo village notorious for vigilante killings said that these incidents wouldn’t happen if people kept to themselves at night.
In the 6th of 7 stories that are part of the Murder in Manila series, “There Are Snakes Everywhere,” Rappler’s Patricia Evangelista reported that allegations of a supposed vigilante group operating in the jurisdiction of Barangay 105 did not bother Chairperson Leny Reyes.
According to Reyes, while there were killers in the slums of Tondo, the same can be said of other places. It's the responsibility of people to stay inside their homes at night, she said.
“If you have nothing to do, don’t wander around. That’s what I say,” she said. “God made the night for sleep, the day to work, right? So things like that wouldn’t happen if people just stayed quiet in their own homes.”
These killers – sources disclosed during a 6-month investigation by Evangelista and Carlo Gabuco – are from the Confederate Sentinels Group (CSG) Tondo Chapter 2. They are allegedly responsible for the deaths of at least 20 people within the first 7 months of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
Self-confessed vigilante killers said that the group was backed by local police whom their leader, Ricardo Villamonte, alias "Commander Maning," supposedly got their orders from.
Sources also claimed that Reyes was connected to the CSG. Simon (not his real name) said Commander Maning was Reyes' bodyguard, while another man who worked in the local village hall said it was Reyes who tried to recruit him to the group.
Reyes, however, denied employing members and denied any direct association with the CSG Tondo Chapter 2. They met only during a courtesy call made in her office.
The alleged vigilante work of CSG Tondo Chapter 2 was exposed in the aftermath of the death of 16-year-old Charlie Saladaga. The teenager was abducted, shot in the face, and tossed into the breakwater of Isla Puting Bato in Tondo.
Three suspects, identified to be members of the CSG by Saladaga’s sister, were presented in a press conference led by then police director general Ronald dela Rosa in February 2017.
According to Reyes, Saladaga was known in the neighborhood for causing trouble, adding that he would have been alive if his mother was more dutiful and had looked after him more.
But Simon, a self-confessed vigilante, told Rappler that although he was notorious in Barangay 105 for being a “troublemaker,” killing him “was a mistake” and that “they should have surrendered him first.”
Sources claimed that killing Saladaga was a side job. Angel (another self-confessed vigilante not using his real name) said it was also possible that neighbors were mad and had paid money to CSG members to have him killed.
The murder of Saladaga did not really shock members of CSG Tondo Chapter 2, according to Angel, adding that the group members “were bragging” about who would be next.
Money eventually became the center of operations, the vigilante said, because their leader Commander Maning allegedly made money as criminals entered their group. CSG Tondo Chapter 2 collapsed because the leadership failed to vet its own assassins, he said.
“They keep recruiting just about anyone,” he said, adding that gun for hires, dealers, and drug addicts infiltrated CSG in the months leading to February 2017.
READ MORE FROM THE MURDER IN MANILA SERIES:
PART 1: 'Some People Need Killing'
PART 2: 'The Cops Were Showing Off'
Part 3: 'Get It From the Chief'
Part 4: 'What Did the CSG Do Wrong?'
Part 5: 'I Finish the Job'
Part 6: 'There Are Snakes Everywhere'
Editor's Note: All quotes in Filipino have been translated into English. At the sources' request, Rappler changed or withheld their names for their own safety.