MANILA, Philippines - Male pride was the motive behind the killing of a US Marine and spouse of a diplomat outside an upscale subdivision in Makati on Saturday, police said on Monday, November 26.
"The suspects, being male, their pride was stepped on by another man. That's the very simple reason for the incident," Makati police chief Senior Supt Manuel Lukban explained during an interview with Rappler.
Lukban said that the men were "irked" when US Marine Maj George Anikow tapped on their vehicle and triggered a fistfight that ended with the victim stabbed to death and lying on the road in a pool of his own blood.
Four young men were arrested and charged with murder while the investigation determines which one of them stabbed Anikow after the brawl at the gate leading to the posh Rockwell subdivision in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Victim harassed security guard
The incident occurred around 4am, when a visibly drunk Anikow first approached the security guard manning an area that leads to Rockwell and started harassing him about the policy of checking vehicles and not allowing non-residents and guests to pass through between 2am and 5am.
CCTV footage from the Rockwell security service showed the American was still interfering with the inspections when a silver Volvo SUV stopped at the gate.
Inside were the driver and 3 young men men who initially ignored 41-year-old Anikow until he tapped on the vehicle to get their attention.
The men then stepped out of the Volvo and confronted the burly US Marine, who according to the guard's statement, pushed one of the men before the others defended their friend.
Seconds later, one of the assailants stabbed Anikow, who received a fatal wound in the neck and limped away before he collapsed in front of a bar along Kalayaan Avenue.
The suspects then sped off along Rockwell Drive toward Palm Village, where one of the suspects owns a unit, but they were arrested before reaching the residence.
Anikow was picked up minutes later by an ambulance and passed away around 7am at the Makati Medical Center.
Assailants preparing for trial
Two days after the incident, the suspects are in jail and waiting for the first hearing on their case upon instructions from their lawyers.
"Initially they did not deny that they were the 4 who were involved in the said incident. But after that, they did not give any more statements," said the Makati police chief.
Lukban identified the suspects as businessmen Juan Alfonso Abastillas, 24 and the driver of the Volvo; Crispin dela Paz, 28; Osric Cabrera, 27; and Galicano Datu III, 22.
The media reported them to come from affluent families.
"They cannot be considered as very prominent and very rich young professionals, but you can see from them that they can have a life that is fair," Lukban said.
Photo courtesy of US Marine Cops official Flickr photostream
Lukban said he believes the suspects are guilty of the crime and that now it is up to the court to determine which of them actually stabbed Anikow with a bloodstained military-style knife that was retrieved from the passenger seat of the Volvo.
"As regards to the commission of the crime, it's very clear. What is not clear is who used the weapon to commit the crime," he explained.
Anikow is a US Marine major who served in Afghanistan and was living in Manila with his US diplomat wife while waiting for his next deployment.
US Embassy Spokesperson Tina Malone said in a brief statement that the victim "was the beloved spouse of a US embassy staff member and a father of three."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is planning to conduct a separate investigation of the case.
Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the killing appeared to be an "isolated incident" and not targeted at anyone in particular.
The killing is the first of a foreign diplomat's family member in the Philippines since the famous Hultman-Chapman case, when Claudio Teehankee Jr., son of the late chief justice Claudio Teehankee, was convicted of murdering two people, one of them the son of a US Embassy employee, inside Dasmariñas subdivision also in Makati.
Teehankee Jr. served 17 years in jail and was granted a presidential pardon in 2008. - Rappler.com