Tricycle for-hire owner Ma. Teresa Reyes probably never thought her day would turn out right.
In the morning of Dec. 19 at about 9 A.M., she sent to the tarpaulin shop of Virac businessman Larry Que in front of the capitol compound to ask for assistance in the registration of her vehicle.
They boarded his maroon Nissan Patrol which he drove towards the LTO Virac branch in San Isidro Village, arriving there at past 9:30 A.M. Unknown to the duo, two men on board a motorcycle without plate number had tailed the car.
As Que and Reyes alighted and walked towards an insurance agency in front of LTO, the two men stopped ahead of Que’s SUV, with the backrider alighting and following Que and his companion.
As the businessman stepped past the doorway, the gunman shot Que in the head, with the bullet entering near his left ear and exiting at his right cheek.
“It all happened very fast in a few seconds,” Reyes told this writer later. She said she saw the assassin but could not identify him as he was wearing a full-face helmet and a raincoat.
The gunman ran back to the waiting motorcycle, which sped towards the sparsely populated Our Lady’s Village.
Reyes and the agency’s secretary were shocked by the incident, with a third witness, an LTO inspector, later seen by responding rescuers of the Philippine Red Cross Emergency Response Unit trying to plug the blood flowing copiously from Que’s wounds using his bare hands.
The rescue team had received the emergency assistance call at 9:43 A.M. They brought the critically wounded businessman and political operator to the emergency room of the Eastern Bicol Medical Center where doctors did all they could to revive him. As of noontime, the unconscious businessman was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), with his stricken family reportedly considering moving him to a Manila hospital.
Unfortunately for his family and friends, Que breathed his last by 2 A.M. Tuesday.
Virac policemen led by Chief Inspector James Ronatay arrived at the crime scene about 10 to 15 minutes later but the riding-in-tandem gunmen were long gone. They strung crime scene tape around the front of the building, including Que’s SUV which had a spare tire cover imprinted with the businessman’s face and that of President Rodrigo Duterte, with the tag “DUTERQUE.”
Since the violent war against illegal drugs began under Duterte’s term, only one drug suspect has been killed by the police in an alleged shootout at the suspect’s rented residence at Danicop with no witnesses except the police. The case was classified as a death under investigation.
Months before, a maintenance man of the Viga Central Elementary School was shot by two men riding-in-tandem while he was watching TV at night. The alleged drug pusher survived the attack.
The glib, garrulous and portly businessman, sometimes described by critics as an influence peddler, filed his CoC for governor against former Gov. Joseph Cua and JB Wong. But he withdrew at the last minute and then ran for mayor of Virac. He placed 5th, apparently pulling himself out of the race for lack of finances.
Certainly, he had no shortage of enemies. He filed the suit questioning the citizenship of then Gov. Cua in 2012 that to his defeat to Araceli Wong, who counted on the advice of Que and allies Vice Gov. Bong Teves and former Gov. Jun Verceles.
Just recently, he won the bidding at the LTO regional office for hundreds of confiscated motorcycles. A few years back, a drug suspect in Caramoran fingered him for involvement in illegal gambling and illegal drugs. Nothing came out of the allegations.
“Uktoy” was known as a survivor but his string of luck ran short this time.
JOKE OF THE WEEK. Due to the seriousness of this column’s subject, we give way to a joke from Malacanang: THERE ARE NO EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS IN THE PHILIPPINES.