Filipino motorcycle tandem assassins: a rapidly-growing national cancer

So is the average Filipino life just worth 10,000 pesos (USD200)? I heard that is the average going rate for a “hit” to be delivered by a pair of assassins riding in tandem on a motorcycle in the Philippines. That’s less than a month’s work for the average Filipino city slicker and about a day’s work for, say, an American on minimum wage.

motorcycle_tandem_ridersObviously the rate varies depending on the “value” of the target. Recently, the suspected assassins who took care of Filipino racing champ Enzo Pastor were reportedly arrested by the Quezon City police. The alleged assassin, a police officer, said he was paid by a “businessman” Php100,000 to do the job.

The killing of Pastor took place on the 13th June and the mode of the attack was pretty standard by, well, Philippine standards…

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According to reports from GMA and ABS-CBN news, the Philippine racer was riding in a truck (license plate WSC 331) at Visayas Avenue corner Congressional Avenue when men riding in tandem on a motorcycle shot Pastor and his assistant Paolo Salazar. Pastor and Salazar were reportedly traveling from Batangas to Clark International Speedway to prepare for the final leg of the Asian V8 Championship.

According to Salazar, the motorcycle suddenly approached them and the gunman opened fire. Both were brought to hospital but Pastor died from gunshots to the head and neck. Salazar was injured in the incident.

Many other such indcidents have occurred with alarming frequency over the last several years. Like the way Filipinos latch on like lemmings to fads, motorcycle-tandem-style assassination has captured Filipinos’ enterprising sensibilities big time. A report worked out that over a six month stretch in late 2011, more than 200 such incidents occurred per month!

It’s a safe bet. Motorcycles have proliferated in the Philippines thanks to the country’s doors remaining wide open to flooding by all sorts of cheap imports. They now infest most Philippine cities, its riders weaving in and out of traffic with impunity and causing many road accidents.

Assassin-by-motorcycle is the motorcycle’s latest business application in the Philippines. Like many of the underground businesses that prop up the Philippine economy, it offers a very low barrier to entry; i.e., not much capital is required to get started. A typical low-end bike costs between 50,000 and 80,000 pesos (USD1,000 to USD2,000). And because one necessarily wears a helmet when riding motorbikes, faces are easily masked during a “job”.

Guns, that other essential tool-of-the-trade, are also not much of a problem to procure. These are in wide circulation all over the Philippines, many of them manufactured illegally in a growing cottage industry in the mountainous jungles of the Philippines’ shadowy hinterlands. Still more of these have found their way out of the armories of the Philippine military, probably peddled by its ill-paid and, thus, impoverished soldiers. It does not help either that the Philippines’ president, Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III and his inner circle of henchmen within his administration are avid gun enthusiasts.

Indeed, the problem of gun proliferation in the Philippines is a lot broader than the issue of bike tandem assassins. Hundreds of Filipinos are routinely killed by stray bullets, most of them during the traditional orgy of indiscriminate gun firing that happens in the lead-up to New Years Eve every year. Many of the offenders are, in fact, people who are licensed to carry firearms, mainly police officers, security, and military personnel. For that matter, the Philippines is effectively a police state, with even the smallest of businesses like corner convenience stores and even private homes guarded by heavily-armed uniformed thugs.

Because of the way these assassins have largely managed to successfully elude capture, more aggressive methods to control them have been proposed. In early August, Philippine Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto filed Senate Bill 2344. Dubbed by pundits as the “Anti Batman and Robin Bill”, the proposal reportedly seeks to grant police officers greater powers to flag down and search pairs of motorcycle riders riding in tandem.

But the problem of the increasingly homicidal nature of Philippine society has far deeper roots. Murderous rampages in the Philippines have at many times, been incited by minor personal slights. Filipinos, in fact, are known to be sensitive (bordering on onion-skinned) and are renowned for being quick to react to criticism.

A crackdown and sustained control over Filipino-style motorcycle tandem assassination will require a systematic approach over a broad scope of measures that take into account both the immediate specific nature of the cases and its more systemic roots.

24 Replies to “Filipino motorcycle tandem assassins: a rapidly-growing national cancer”

  1. it’s a dime a dozen nowadays, i first came to know about this MO during the early part of the 90’s when the wife and mother of the owner of houseware square were killed by motorcycling men at the carport of their building at buendia which happens to very near a police station and mind you, the shots were allegedly taken at a distance that’s why the police said it was done by pros, later the perps merely crossed to the other lane. i don’t know what happened with the case but robert delfin and his men assisted the family and most probably they got even.

  2. 2014 Global Peace Index the Philippines dropped 5 places to rank 134 out of 162 countries.
    In 2008 Philippines ranked 116.

    Corruption, poverty and the patron-client nature of relations in the Philippines means that problems exist across all levels of society—not just in areas under conflict —with high levels of violent crime and kidnapping. Further, the decades-long conflict on the southern island of Mindanao, between the government and Muslim separatist groups, continues.

    Corruption in the Philippines is widespread—the country scores 36 out of 100 on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index-and there is a widely held belief that graft among the elite is the reason why poverty rates and income inequality have remained very high by regional standards, despite strong economic performance in the past decade.
    The patron-client nature of underlying relations also plays a role. These relationships can distort the allocation of resources away from the area where they are most needed, or could be used most effectively.In parts of the Philippines, this system combines with disputes over ethnicity-related matters,results in violence between wealthy political families who seek to maintain control over the sources of their power and influence.

  3. Was that opening paragraph just bait for pedants (like this one)? An American on minimum wage earns more like $50 a day than $200. The situation in Philippines is dire enough without having to exaggerate.

    1. The fact that Filipino society seems to value human life so cheaply is not an exaggeration. Ultimately, that is what should concern us.

      1. To me, it’s like going back to the tribal days where young men of the tribe are send to headhunt and kill men from another tribe. Human lives aren’t valued in backward societies. And of course, there’s the warlordism that is the very core of Philippine politics. There’s the message that Benign0 conveys in this article: motorcycle assassins are another symbol of our country’s situation.

    2. The Dutch minimum wage is:
      Euro 69,01 per day (= approx USD$ 90,97)
      Euro 345,05 per week (= approx USD$ 454,86)
      Euro 1495,20 per month (= approx USD$ 1971,03)

      All amounts are gross (tax still need to be deducted) to get the nett amount.
      The amounts are based on a full time working day/week/month of at least 36 hours (or 38 or 40 hrs).

  4. Motorcycle killings are on the rise. Motorcycles are easy to use, fast and easy to manuever. Question is… what happened to Oplan Bakal? The police had checkpoints and stopped motorcycles at night and even broad daylight. Guns could be searched in motorcycle compartments or tapped down in dismounted searches. What is the PNP doing about it? What happened to elite police motorcycle units? What happened to police intelligence and informants? Where is the funding for this?

    1. The police are doing summary executions of their own of drug dealers or else they are at the station stuffing doughnuts into their fat bodies. The Philippines has many good laws; but they are not enforced nearly enough. A friend who has a motorcycle recently got a ticket at a road check. The policeman took off his license plate. In order to pay the ticket and get the license plate back; he had to find out which police station the officer worked out of. When he finally found the officer, he had to pay the officer directly. The officer asked for 1000p for the ticket; but was willing to accept 500. Call me cynical; but something makes me think that all of that money did not go into the coffers of the municipality.

  5. Nothing new here, the ‘sparrows’ have been around for decades.
    The cesspool produces a stench second to none, and this article seems to think its a secret,HA!

    Move along,nothng to see here.

  6. It is a growing “cottage industry” in the Philippines…murder for hire, by motorcyclists riding in tandem.

    It shows the failure of the Aquino administration in the peace and order implementation of the country…

    These are important issues to be addressed to; not the blaming of people, and others…
    Aquino simply cannot govern…he lost control already..

    1. Correction: Aquino never had any control to start with. He always was and will always be a sad, cruel joke played on this country and it’s people.

  7. In times like this we should have a secret police force like KEMPEITAi or wat did you call the German version and the Russian too. ok all Dictorship police forces coodinating with a Sherlock Holmes Filipino. But the question is…do we have a detective as good as Shelock Holmes, do we have a police force as good as Britains?

    1. You seriously want an SS or KGB equivalent to work under a corrupt chain of command known as the Philippine government? Think before you type because that’s gotta be one of the dumbest proposals I have seen yet.

      1. We need: Gestapos, Kempetais, KGB, CIA, NPA Sparrow Units, YellowTard Hit Squad…etc…Aquino’s Police Republic…

  8. Marcos had a secret police force. They made students and activists and critics disappear; not the criminals. The person in charge of his secret police force is now a senator.

    1. Bring back that Senator….he is experienced in making people disappear. Maybe he can make those murder-for-hire killers disappear…

  9. No fun in the new Killing Fields.

    10 Korean tourist murdered in the Philippines last year.
    9 in the first 7 months of this year.
    Korean Ambassador going berserk protect our people.
    The locals are flummoxed and cannot believe tourist do not want to visit the Philippines, we really are hospitable.

    Ban the police from owning or riding motorbikes and you will cut the crime rate by 50%

    1. @ YAWN, once anyone visits the Philippines for any amount of time they realize two things : 1)The place is a shit-hole and 2)Everyone in the shit-hole is programmed to rob/cheat the visitor.

      The visitor is left with one conclusion to act upon when they leave the country,ONE ! and that is to never again set foot in that shit-hole again. (and maybe beat the fuck out of the first Filipino they meet in their home country when they get home ! HA !).It is sad but true. Foreigners are set upon as soon as they walk out the door of the airport by the TAXI-CAB drivers and on it goes…until they leave !

  10. The real problem is the absolute lack of any police presence anywhere. In Austria per example (which is a neutral, peaceful country without terrorism) you will see police patrolling everywhere. On foot and in police cars. Every couple of streets you see police.

    Now I wonder, why can’t they implement here that cops have to patrol the neighborhood on foot. Every single street. Day and night. Then add Patrol cars cruising. Is it that difficult? The only time you see a Patrol car is when it’s parked somewhere in the shade and the cops look like they are going to take a nap. Ever seen cops on foot patrolling the neighborhood? Don’t tell me that is the job of the Barangay, because they are never seen anywhere either. Useless fuckers!

    It is just ridiculous. Cops on foot (two at a time) patrolling does not cost the government anything. Stay in contact with the population. Keep the city clean. Tell the tattooed neighborhood boys to put a shirt on and quit drinking in the street. KEEP AN EYE OUT & TAKE CARE OF STUFF! There are tons of things to do! Instead they sit on their lazy, corrupted, fat asses all day and watch TV at the station.

    Put me in charge of the police and I will drop the crime rate by 50% in 3 month. I will also probably have to suspend 50% of the pigs in the same time.

  11. The very lazy yellow dictator is to blame for not acting to solve this motorcycle crime wave. He should have issued a directive to the Philippine National Police. He should have provided intelligence funds and even funding for more police visibility, checkpoints, night patrols and chase vehicles. Damn you BS Aquino!

  12. Motorcycle assassins isn’t anything new, I remember before motorcycles got cheap, like in the 1980s, there were owner jeeps. And not much traffic then, so the assassins could easily escape. The underbone motorcycles made things a lot easier, though.

  13. Benigno O try living in the Philippines first. This country has been waging a civil war for the past akmost 80 years so is it a surprise people pay to protect themselves, even with what u call thugs? Oh, and why do you claim that most of the people shooting during New Year’s Eve are licensed gunowners? Do you know how stringent gun licensing is in this country? It includes ballistcs testing, too. So if what u claim is true, then it’d be easy to catch culprits if bullets are recovered, right? Not! Because most guns used for these activities are unlicensed.

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