SINAS: WOUNDED COP NOT A HITMAN
Mayor Tom finds police chief’s statement ‘weird’ and ‘funny’
SP01 Balili in stable condition but ‘can’t properly talk yet’
The Central Visayas police on Friday confirmed that a policeman was rushed to the hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound at about the same time an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) was killed in an ambush in Carcar City, south Cebu, on Wednesday.
But Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said the policeman identified as SPO1 Roderick Balili was not in any way involved in the slay of PDEA-7 Agent Von Rian Tecson.
“SPO1 Balili accidentally shot himself while conducting surveillance operations in Pinamungajan town. It just so happened that a PDEA agent was also killed at that time. People thought the two
incidents were related,” he explained in a press conference on Friday.
“It was just a case of separate incidents rolled into one,” he added.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña on Thursday said he received an information that the masked gunman who was wounded in a shootout with Tecson was a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
He said Balili has been on his “not-so-nice” list of uniformed men.
Osmeña found Sinas’ revelations about how Balili wounded himself as “weird” and “funny.”
“What a weird coincidence that Balili was injured at the same time, (and) in another location. It sounds credible. Or does it?,” the mayor told Cebu Daily News in a text message.
Senior Insp. Ricardo Tero, officer in charge of the Regional Special Operations Group, said three policemen, including Balili, were tasked to conduct surveillance operations against a certain Nilo Quirante, a former policeman, who is on their drugs watchlist.
Tero said the team’s Toyota Altis was traversing a road in Pinamungajan town, southwest Cebu, when Balili’s service firearm, a 9mm pistol, suddenly went off at 11:50 a.m. on Wednesday or about an hour before Tecson was killed in Carcar City.
Carcar City is about 32 kilometers away from Pinamungajan town.
Balili was rushed by his companions to the South General Hospital in Naga City, south Cebu, for medical treatment but was eventually transferred to Cebu Doctors’ Hospital in Cebu City.
“He (Balili) is now in stable condition although he can’t properly talk yet,” he said.
Police officials refused to reveal yet where Balili’s gunshot wound was, saying they have yet to receive a medical report from the private hospital.
For his part, Tecson’s older brother, SPO1 Von Tecson, expressed dismay over the slow pace of the investigation.
“Hinay kaayo ang dagan sa imbestigasyon sa akong mga kauban. Ang ako lang unta nga mogawas ang tinuod (The way my colleagues investigate this case is very slow. I just hope that the truth will prevail),” he said in a GMA-7 Balitang Bisdak interview.
“Kon duna man gani nabuhat ang akong igsoon, wala lang unta nila ingon atoa (If my brother committed something wrong, the perpetrators should not have killed him),” he added.
SPO1 Tecson said he has the memory card of the dash camera installed inside the Ford Ranger of his brother.
He said he will submit the vital piece of evidence to the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas which is conducting a separate investigation.
SPO1 Tecson earlier said his brother had received death threats from a suspected drug lord whom the PDEA-7 earlier arrested.
Senior Supt. Manuel Abrugena, the director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), said investigators continue to validate information relayed to them in an attempt to unmask the perpetrators and the motive behind the killing.
“We’re looking into reports that the victim received death threats before he was killed,” he said.
Nine gunshot wounds
Tecson, a team leader of the PDEA-7, was shot dead by men on board two motorcycles while his Ford Ranger slowed down due to traffic along the main highway of Barangay Perrelos in Carcar City, south Cebu, at around 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
The 41-year-old agent suffered nine gunshot wounds on his head and body.
His driver was also hit in the leg but managed to run away.
Tecson was reportedly able to fire back and hit one of the gunmen who was rushed by his co-assailants to the hospital on board a red Pajero.
Sinas has created a Special Investigation Task Group to focus on Tecson’s case.
He, however, maintained that SPO1 Balili was not involved in the killing of Tecson.
Sinas said they will nonetheless look into Osmeña’s claims that policemen may have a hand in the killing of Tecson.
“The statement of the mayor is just the statement of the mayor. I will not confirm or deny his statements (but) we will put that into considerations,” he said.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III appealed to the public not to make judgments against the police yet.
“It’s best to wait for the outcome of the investigation,” he said.
“Not so good”
But Osmeña reiterated his observations that the series of murders in Metro Cebu came when new leaders were placed in the PRO-7 and the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).
“There’s killings here and there, and we’re not used to this. And it appears that there’s something going beyond. It’s very clear there’s a pattern and some rivalry between drug suspects, and some policemen maybe involved,” he said in a live interview with Rappler Talk on Friday.
Osmeña also said the current state of public safety in Cebu City made him upset since the city government does not have capability to investigate the killings.
“And I’m very disturbed right now. We’re trying to catch a pattern and identify who are the suspects behind all of these,” he said.
When asked if he has any plans to lessen the number of crimes in Cebu City, the mayor, however, admitted that presently, he has no idea on doing so.
“Well, I don’t know at this point. But I promised the Cebuanos I am responsible for the peace and order situation. But right now, I don’t know what to do. Just give me some time,” Osmeña added.
Osmeña described his relationship with the local police as “not so good.” /with Jessa Mae O. Sotto
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