GUN VIOLENCE CLAIMS 2 MORE LIVES
And the killings continue.
A policewoman and a former councilman were the latest fatalities in the spate of killings that has been recorded in Cebu over the last 28 hours.
Glen Mark Manal, a former councilman of Barangay Lorega San Miguel in Cebu City, was on his way home on foot along New Imus Road at past 11 p.m. on Wednesday when he was gunned down by still unknown assailant on board a motorcycle.
Medical responders rushed him to the hospital but Manal was declared dead on arrival by the attending physicians.
The 39-year-old former councilman succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds on his body.
Prior to the shooting incident, Manal attended the wake of his friend who was also killed by an unidentified gunman last July 5.
Chief Insp. Kenneth Paul Albotra, chief of the Parian Police Station, said Manal was on the narco list of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We’re looking into illegal drugs as a possible motive in the killing of Manal,” he said.
Manal served as a councilman of Barangay Lorega San Miguel from 2010 to June 2018.
He ran but lost under Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) in the last May 14 barangay elections.
Female cop killed
About six hours after Manal was killed, a policewoman who had been placed on “floating status” was killed by unidentified assailants while she was driving her Toyota Yaris car in Barangay Poblacion, Tabuelan town, northwest Cebu.
The fatality, P01 Avita “Jiji” Sarzuelo, a native of Barangay Poblacion, suffered multiple gunshot wounds on the body.
Based on the investigation, Insp. Emmanuel Rabaya, commander of the Tabuelan Police Station, said at least four perpetrators on board two motorcycles fired at Sarzuelo.
“We’re looking into all the possible motives behind the killing, including illegal drugs and personal grudge,” he said.
Just last month, Rabaya said they received a complaint from a man who was reportedly punched by Sarzuelo during a heated argument.
He said they were also validating reports that the 42-year-old policewoman was involved in the narcotics trade.
Sarzuelo, who joined the Philippine National Police in 1996, had been placed in the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit of the Cebu Provincial Police Office.
Sarzuelo joined 10 policemen in Cebu and another in Bohol who have been killed since the government launched its relentless campaign against illegal drugs on July 1, 2016.
Of the number, three were killed by their colleagues in uniform during police anti-drugs operations while the rest were gunned down by unknown assailants.
Police officers were not the only casualties in the ongoing war on drugs.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed his post two years ago, three barangay captains and a former village chief in Cebu and Bohol were also killed.
Also included in the list were two Cebu councilors, two barangay councilmen, and Ronda town Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab.
Last Tuesday, five persons, including a 4-year-old boy, was killed in separate shooting incidents in Cebu City alone.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has dangled a cash reward of P100,000 for information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators who killed Manal and Barangay Kalunasan Councilman Ruel Mabano — both members of Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).
He also promised to take care of the funeral and burial expenses of the victims.
Mabano was killed while standing in front of the Kalunasan Barangay Hall last Tuesday. Police have yet to identify the perpetrators but said the murder might be linked to political rivalry.
As to Manal, Osmeña said the former councilman of Lorega San Miguel was no longer involved in the illegal drugs trade contrary to what police investigators claimed.
“Glen Manal is the head of the BMO (Barangay Mayor’s Office). He was allegedly involved in the drugs trade before. But now, no more,” the mayor said.
To make sure the drugs trade in the area would not flourish, Osmeña said he would suspend the cash incentives intended for all barangay tanods in Barangay Lorega San Miguel.
“Lorega San Miguel is notorious for drug activities. I’m sending a message, and I’m going to do this to other barangays as well. And we will take additional steps as we go along,” he said.
Two black cars
Contrary to what police claim, Osmeña said Cebu City could not be considered safe following the spate of killings.
“I wish I could say it’s safe at this point. (But no), it’s not safe,” he said.
Osmeña urged Cebuanos to help him spot the two black Hyundai cars, which, he said, might have been used in the killings.
“These are cars of interest,” he said.
“I need the people’s support. I’m looking for these two black Hyundai cars. They go together, and I believe that the killings are related,” said Osmeña.
The mayor believed more than one group was involved in the recent string of murders in Cebu.
“There could be more than one group but there’s the possibility that at least one group is involved. (Is it from outside Cebu?) I think so,” Osmeña added.
Senior Supt. Royina Garma, director of the Cebu City Police Office, said their anti-drugs operations would be relentless.
“An ultimatum was already given by (the) President (Duterte). So we the police have to do our job. We will make arrests, and if we need to protect ourselves, then we will do it,” she added.
Garma said illegal drugs are still rampant in Cebu.
“With just P100, one can already sniff shabu. It’s really very cheap, and that means the supply abounds,” she said.
Garma called on the community to help the police in fighting illegal drugs.
“Have the guts to report. The police handling illegal drug cases are few. If there are illegal drugs in your community, then help us,” she said.
Garma, on the other hand, expressed dismay over how people criticize policemen.
“If we arrest someone, people will say we just planted the evidence. If we don’t arrest someone, they will say the police are drug protectors. If we kill someone in a shootout, people will say we deliberately killed the target. If a policeman dies, the public says it’s okay because it’s part of police work. If a suspect gets killed, the police are being investigated,” she said.
“So what will the police do now? We will never please everybody,” she added.
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