CHR PROBES KILLING OF JAGUAR ‘PROTECTOR’
Police claim Senior Insp. Hortezuela killed in shootout during a drug bust; family cries for justice
The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7) has stepped in to investigate the circumstances leading to the death of a police officer in an alleged drug bust in Mandaue City on Sunday.
Lawyer Arvin Odron, CHR-7 director, said they wanted to know whether or not the raiding team had basis to shoot Senior Insp. Raymond Hortezuela.
“As the official government agency tasked to monitor the government’s compliance with human rights standards, the CHR deemed it appropriate to conduct a separate investigation as a way of checking abuses,” he said in a text message.
“We should distinguish the fact that the authority given to the police to use their firearms is not equivalent to a license to kill,” he added. Hortezuela, 35, was the target of an operation conducted by operatives of the Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF), the Regional Intelligence Division in Central Visayas (RID-7) and the Mandaue City Drug Enforcement Unit past 7 p.m. on Sunday following reports that he was involved in the narcotics trade.
Chief Insp. Jewel Nicanor, information officer of the CITF based in Camp Crame, claimed Hortezuela tried to shoot it out with the operatives, prompting them to fight back.
“The transaction was consummated and he resisted arrest during the operation (so we were left with no choice but to shoot him),” he explained.
Hortezuela, who was assigned in the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO), suffered gunshot wounds on the body.
He was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival by a physician.
Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said Hortezuela had long been involved in the narcotics trade and served as one of the police protectors of Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, considered as Central Visayas’ top drug lord.
Diaz was gunned down by Cebu City-based police in what police said was an encounter in Las Piñas City on June 17, 2016.
Sinas said both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had investigated Hortezuela for the past years.
“We have reason to believe that he is involved in illegal drug activities (here in Cebu),” said Sinas in a press conference on Monday.
Aside from being a police protector, Sinas said Hortezuela was also a “big time drug pusher” and a user.
“It just so happened that he tested negative in the series of drug tests we conducted. Maybe, he knew how not to get caught,” Sinas said.
Hortezuela’s family denied the accusations against the slain police officer and demanded that he be given justice.
His father, Wilfredo, said they would never believe the police’s accusation against his son.
“Dili gyud mi makatuo anang ilang pasangil kay buotan gyud tong bataa (We don’t believe their accusations because he was a good man),” he said in an interview.
He said his son was facing only one case which was in relation to the death of an alleged robber whom Hortezuela shot after victimizing a woman in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.
Wilfredo said his son, the eldest of three siblings, was never involved in the narcotics trade.
“If he was indeed a drug protector, he would have been rich now. He would not have struggled to raise his family,” he said.
Wilfredo, 54, said Hortezuela was the family’s breadwinner.
The policeman, his 35-year-old wife, and daughter lived with their parents in Sitio Superior , Barangay Looc, Mandaue City.
His mother Gina, who runs an eatery, said her son was framed up and killed to silence him since he might have possessed information that would link a police official to illegal drug activities.
“Kon pananglitan duna’y sala ang akong anak, dili unta nila patyon, ila lang untang dakpon. (If my son had committed a mistake, they should not have killed him. They should have arrested him instead),” said the mother.
Hortezuela’s wife, Maricel, said she last saw her husband around 5 p.m. on Sunday when he left their house to return to work in Negros Oriental.
She said Hortezuela even bought pancit (stir fried noodles) and balloons for their daughter since he would not be with her when she turned 13 on Friday.
Hortezuela completed his secondary education from the Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School and graduated from college at the University of Cebu in 2006.
Hortezuela, a native of Mandaue City, was deputy chief of the Guadalupe police station in Cebu City before he was transferred to Negros Oriental last May.
Sinas said Hortezuela asked the permission of his higher ups in Negros Oriental that he would return to Cebu last week to attend a court hearing.
But the police official said they had not seen any documents that would prove that Hortezuela attended the court hearing.
Chief Insp. Mercy Villaro, information officer of the Mandaue City Police Office, said Hortezuela drew his gun when the latter noticed that he was transacting with an undercover agent last Sunday.
“He was subsequently shot,” she said.
Recovered from Hortezuela was a .45 caliber pistol. Inside his car were 75 sachets of suspected shabu and cash amounting to P68,830.
In the meantime, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor on police matters, urged policemen to address the killings in Metro Cebu and to secure the people.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña was planning to lease patrol cars to help the police, particularly the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, in running after criminals.
“No, it’s (series of killings) not alarming. I think these are isolated cases. It happens in New York City, Los
Angeles. We’ll just monitor the situation to see if there’s a pattern,” he said. Osmeña said leasing one patrol car that will operate for 24 hours may cost the city government about P70,000 per month.
The amount, he said, will also include the salaries for the SWAT members assigned to take the patrol car in their custody.
“What I’m thinking I’m doing is similar to that of leasing garbage trucks. We will also lease police cars on a 24/7 basis. That’s P70,000 for one car running for 24 hours, not only 8 hours. Then we can use them to catch over-speeding and whatever purposes,” explained Osmeña.
“We don’t have the money for that this year so maybe next year. So we’re speaking of maybe equipping our SWAT team, training them, mobilizing them. It (still) depends on many things,” he added. / with reports from Benjie B. Talisic and Morexette Marie B. Erram
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