Fugitive Army reservist Vhon Martin Tanto, a road rage suspect, remained at large yesterday after leaving his vehicle in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya, some 260 kilometers north of Manila.
Tanto, wanted for the death of Mark Vincent Garalde in P. Casal, drove to the house of his brother-in-law, Jonathan Leaño, a resident at Puron 3, and asked to be brought to the bus terminal.
Leaño, a discharged member of the Philippine Marines, told police that Tanto originally planned to flee to Bataan, but changed his mind and took a Florida bus from Barangay Banganan bound for Sampaloc, Manila.
Police seized the vehicle, a red Hyundai Eon with conduction number MO 3745, and brought it to the Aritao station before its turnover to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame.
On Wednesday, the Manila Police District (MPD) issued a “shoot-to-kill” order against Tanto after the deadline for his voluntary surrender elapsed.
MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel ordered a nationwide manhunt that will be carried out using “deadly force if necessary depending on the situation.”
Tanto shot Garalde five times following an altercation and a fistfight recorded on closed circuit television (CCTV) in P. Casal, Quiapo Monday night.
Garalde was riding his mountain bike when he got into an argument with Tanto who was aboard his vehicle.
An 18-year-old student, identified as Rocel Bondoc, was hit by a stray bullet and was rushed to the Mary Child Hospital where she is now out of danger.
Attending physician Dr. Domingo Reyes said they have removed the bullet that penetrated the lower back of Bondoc and damaged her kidney. She is set to be transferred to a recovery room from the Intensive Care Unit.
Bondoc’s aunt Rowena Dungca, said her niece has regained consciousness and could now communicate with them through hand signs.
“Nakakausap na namin siya, pa-senyas-senyas lang,” Dungca said. “Matagal-tagal pa nga daw ang recovery niya.”
Tanto was positively identified by witness Bryan Yu.
Manila Mayor Joseph E. Estrada is offering a R100,000 reward for the arrest of Tanto.
Estrada has called on other witnesses to come out and cooperate with authorities.
“We’re also asking the public’s cooperation for the immediate arrest of the suspect. Any information will be a big help to our law enforcers,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Army is opening its own investigation on the fatal shooting.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano, said Tanto is assigned with the 1301st Community Defense Center, NCR Regional Community Defense Group of the Army Reserve Command based in Caloocan City.
Ano said that he has directed the Army Reserve Command or (ARESCOM) to conduct an immediate investigation.
“ARESCOM is exhausting all means to locate him,” Ano said.
“Rest assured that the Philippine Army will cooperate with all investigating bodies regarding the case,” he added.
(PNA, Liezle Basa Iñigo, Francis T. Wakefield, and Jaimie Rose A. Aberia)