MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The suspect in the Quiapo road rage slay, Vhon Martin Tanto, was arrested at around noon on Friday, July 29.
Police Chief Superintendent Melvin Ramon Buenafe, regional director of Police Regional Office 5, confirmed this information also on Friday.
Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Eduardo Año said in a press statement that the army’s intelligence units arrested Tanto at his relative’s house in Barangay Poblacion East, Milagros, Masbate, at around 11:40 am.
Tanto was brought to the 9th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Masbate and then to the Masbate Provincial Police Office. He was then brought to the Regional Police Office in Legaspi City, and will be turned over to the Manila Police District which has jurisdiction over his case.
Tanto is the primary suspect in the death of bicycle rider Mark Vincent Garalde, following a heated argument in Quiapo, Manila, on Monday, July 25. The incident was caught on closed circuit television (CCTV) camera in the area.
The victim’s counsel, Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta, told reporters at the wake of Garalde on Friday that murder charges will be filed against Tanto.
Colonel Fernando Trinidad, commander of the 903rd Infrantry Brigade, said in an interview on ANC that a concerned citizen recognized Tanto from his pictures flashed in media reports, and tipped authorities on his location.
Trinidad said Tanto did not resist arrest when authorities apprehended him.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that this “was a test of the AFP’s resolve” to apprehend a suspect tagged behind the Quiapo road rage slay.
The AFP said it “began to have a particular interest in this case after Tanto was identified to be an Army Reservist.” The military said that upon verification, however, they learned that Tanto’s status is “inactive,” and he “has been virtually delisted from the rolls for failure to report to his unit since January 2015.”
“Since he was identified to be a reservist after that fatal road rage, he has been dragging not only the AFP, but also the good name and reputation of the Reservist Force in the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy,” the AFP said.
“This, the AFP cannot and will not tolerate. It will, as it did, exert all efforts and utilize its available resources to help arrest this individual labeled as ‘very dangerous,'” it added.
Año said that because of this incident, the Philippine Army will be more strict in screening prospective reservists.
Initial investigations showed that on July 26 or a day after the incident, Tanto left his vehicle with his brother-in-law, Jonathan Leano, in Nueva Vizcaya and told him that he and his family would travel back to Manila, then to Bataan, via provincial bus.
Authorities found the vehicle – the same one used in the crime and caught on camera – on July 28, after receiving a tip.
Earlier, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada announced a P100,000-reward to speed up the arrest of Tanto. – Rappler.com