By Rommel F. Lopez

Judylou Palas, 22, was gunned down inside her aunt’s home in Purok Dalia, Visayan Village in this city.  Investigators suspect her mother’s job as a former agent of an Investment company which turned out to be a scam as a motive behind the killing.  Palas is the latest victim in a series of murders being linked to the failed investment companies that proliferated in the city.

Tagum City, Davao del Norte – Local leaders have condemned the series of murders in the city in the past month most of which were attributed to various investment scams that thrived here.

The latest victim, Judy Lou Palas, 22, was gunned down inside her aunt’s home in Purok Dalia, Visayan Village in this city.  Investigators are zeroing in on her mother’s job as a former agent of the PLC Investment company which turned out to be a scam that promises high returns to its investors.  The company went out of business in June.  Unidentified gunmen barged into her aunt’s home and repeatedly fired on Palas.  She died instantly.  Palas, fresh out of college, was working as a teacher at St.Thomas More School of Law and Business.

The Tagum City government posted a statement in their official Facebook page condemning the murder of Palas and other murders that happened in the past month.

The city calls the murder on “hapless individuals in Tagum City” as “barbaric, yet smacked of cowardice in view of the perpetrators’ perceived cloak of anonymity.”

In an interview with, Mayor Allan Rellon said he has ordered more police visibility around the city and intensified check points and body frisking. 

Some netizens, commenting on the city’s statement expressed their disappointment over the city officials’ reaction to the killings describing it as “not enough”

“This is not as agressive (sic) as gathering the CEO’s. Do something aggressive (sic) that would help the people and stop the killing. I wish my heart can appreciate the statement,” netizen Lala JC said.

Netizen Alvin Agnaya asks the city to “make a move” and to not just release a statement. “As people (sic) of Tagum, we put you in the position on our behalf. Kaya make the right move,” he commented.

Rellon said that he has set up a bounty on any information that would lead to the capture of the perpetrators to expedite the resolution to these cases.  He has also called the public to remain vigilant and to immediately contact the authorities if they have any information about crimes being or about to be committed.

Meanwhile, Bishop Medil Aseo of the Diocese of Tagum condemned the killing of Palas who also served as a lector of the diocese’s Cathedral.  Aseo said the recent spate of killings show how “the commandment ‘You shall not kill” was disregarded and the value and sanctity of human lives are violated.”

However, he said that as Christians, “instead of hate we respond with love.”

He has ordered an oratio imperata, Latin for Obligatory Prayer, for the end of violence and killings in the diocese to be prayed at every Mass in the diocese “so that God’s peace may reign over.” 

The oratio imperata was first prayed during all Masses celebrated in all churches and chapels in the diocese this Sunday, September 8, which happens to be what Catholics and Orthodox Christians celebrate as the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Diocese of Tagum covers the entire province of Davao del Norte, where Tagum City is the capital, except the city of Samal, (the southern portion of the Lasang River) and Compostela Valley.

The St. Thomas More School of Law and Business where Palas used to work as an administrative staff issued a statement condemning her murder “which took not only her life but her youth and dreams as well”.

“We strongly appeal to the duly constituted authorities to track down the perpetrators of the dastardly and cowardly act. We call on them to see to it that justice is served and that appropriate punishment is meted. We call on them to ensure that nobody in this city shall ever again suffer the same fate,” the statement read.

Brig. Gen. Marcelo Morales, director of Police Regional Office 11 (PRO-11), said the killings that happened in the city are linked to the investment schemes that proliferated in the city a few months ago.

He has ordered an “aggressive” police operation throughout the region.

Almost all investment companies were closed in June after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the crackdown on all dubious investment schemes starting with the KAPA Community Ministry International (KAPA).

After the closure of the investment companies at least seven killings in Tagum were reported in the month of August alone.  Even after Morales directed newly installed city police chief, Lt. Col. Ariel Acala, to implement tight security measures and manhunt operations against the suspects, the killings have not abated.