ANTI-DRUG COP KILLED
Parian policeman tried to ambush village dad but was gunned down by his bodyguard; PRO-7 claims cops on surveillance operation when shot, and orders arrest of brgy official
Tejero Barangay Councilor Jessielou Cadungog started changing his routine after receiving a text message that he was the target of an assassination
Past 8 a.m. on Monday, one of the two men on board a motorcycle tried to shoot at his heavily-tinted Toyota FJ Cruiser along T. Padilla Extension in Cebu City.
But the attempt was foiled by Cadungog’s bodyguard who shot and killed the assailant.
The attacker, however, turned out to be a policeman — PO3 Eugene Alcain Calumba, a member of the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Parian Police Station in Cebu City.
Calumba’s companion Michael Banua, an anti-crime volunteer, was collared by barangay tanods and arrested.
Both Calumba and Banua have barcode tattoos on their left wrists.
But the story took a bizarre twist when the Central Visayas police sought to turn the tables on Cadungog, saying it was the village official and his bodyguard who attacked Calumba.
Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, head of the Central Visayas police, ordered the arrest of Cadungog and his bodyguard for allegedly attacking Calumba.
Sinas said Calumba was the victim and Banua witnessed the attack on the policeman.
Sinas’ declaration prompted Cadungog to seek protection from the National Bureau of Investigation Central Visayas (NBI-7).
“Why am I the suspect now when I was supposed to be the target of an assassination plot?” he said.
Cadungog, a former barangay captain of Tejero and the director of the Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation (OPASCOR), comes from a village being monitored for drugs, according to the police.
A gun registered to him had been recovered from SPO1 Adonis Dumpit, a suspected drug courier who was killed by policemen in Tagbilaran City, Bohol when he tried to resist arrest for involvement in the drug trade in Bohol province.
But Cadungog denied any involvement in drugs, saying he had papers to show that he sold the gun to Dumpit.
As part of changing his routine, Cadungog told his bodyguards to drop him off near the village hall and he would just walk.
But a few minutes after Cadungog was dropped off, his bodyguard, who was driving the FJ Cruiser, noticed a motorcycle drove up to his side.
Then the passenger of the motorcycle tried to pull a gun from his waistband, prompting him to get his own firearm and shoot the man.
“I have to defend myself. I believe an ambush was set to take place,” he told reporters in Cebuano.
Cadungog immediately sought for cover when he heard the bursts of gunfire.
“Nagdali-dali kog dagan aron pagluwas sa akong kaugalingon. (I quickly ran to save myself),” he said.
Banua, the driver of the motorcycle, tried to escape but was mobbed by barangay tanods and bystanders.
Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who was near the area, had to intervene and brought him to the Cebu City Medical Center for medical treatment.
He wanted to bring Banua to the NBI-7 as requested by Cadungog but he received a call from Senior Insp. Joemar Pomarejos, chief of the Waterfront Police Station, to bring Banua first to the police office for “recording purposes.”
Shortly after they arrived at the Waterfront Police Station, Tumulak said Pomarejos grabbed Banua and brought him to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7). Tumulak was surprised.
“Dili unta sila mag-ingon ana kay ako man maoy arresting officer unta ni Banua. Duna lang untay proper turnover ba kay akoy manubag kon unsay mahitabo ana niya. (They should not have done that because I was the arresting officer of Banua. There should have been a proper turnover because I would be held accountable if ever something bad happens to him),” he said.
Sinas then arrived at the CIDG-7 office and talked to Banua. When he emerged from the meeting, Sinas told reporters that Banua was not a suspect but a witness in the crime.
“Cadungog is our prime suspect. He was the gunman because he owns the vehicle from where the shooter of Calumba came from. There have been no other witnesses to prove that someone else was inside the vehicle,” he said.
Sinas ordered all police units in Cebu City to conduct a manhunt against Cadungog who would be charged for the death of Calumba.
“This is a case of a police being shot. I already instructed the whole city police to get Cadungog. If he will not surrender, then get him at all cost,” he said.
“If he surrenders, then I could guarantee his safety,” he added.
Sinas said they have been conducting a background investigation against Cadungog after he was identified as the source of the gun recovered from Dumpit.
He said Calumba was conducting surveillance operations in Barangay Tejero in Cebu City on Monday after receiving reports that illegal drugs were rampant in the place.
On his way home, Calumba reportedly drove by Cadungog’s car and was suddenly shot by someone inside the vehicle.
Sinas said Cadungog must answer for the death of the policeman while Banua would not be facing any case.
“I’d like to say that Banua is not a suspect. He’s a witness and I have to protect my only witness in the crime,” Sinas said.
Sinas also lashed out at Tumulak for allegedly “tampering evidence,” including taking custody of the identification cards of Banua as well as the gun magazine and cellular phone of Calumba.
“He (Tumulak) is not authorized to do so. And we received reports that Councilor Tumulak punched the driver (Banua). We will be filing a case of physical injury against him plus another case of obstruction of justice if he won’t turnover everything he got from the crime scene,” the police director said.
After Sinas’ pronouncements, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña escorted Cadungog and Tumulak to the NBI-7 office at the Capitol Site to seek help.
Around 1 p.m., Tumulak was fetched by a team of Special Weapons And Tactics from the NBI-7 office, telling the councilor that he was “invited” for questioning.
Three hours later, Tumulak was still held at the CIDG-7 and was not allowed to go home until Osmeña arrived to get him.
Before he went to the CIDG-7, Tumulak said Sinas apologized to him for accusing him of taking possession of Banua’s ID cards.
“To set the records straight, I did not get those cards. It was turned over to me by the nurse who attended to Banua at the hospital,” he said.
“He (Sinas) apologized to me (through text message). Apology accepted,” he added.
Tumulak said he first wanted to turnover the pieces of evidence to the CIDG-7 and Senior Insp. Arieza Otida, spokesperson of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), but they did not accept them.
“And so I turned them over to Mayor Tommy who, in turn, entrusted the evidence to the NBI,” he said.
In an interview, Osmeña expressed disgust over the actions of the police, saying it had now been revealed that police officers were behind the series of killings. (see sidebar story)
Cadungog also asked the police not to circumvent the facts.
“I am never involved in illegal activities. If the police have concerns about me, they should have approached and asked me,” he said.
“Now, I no longer trust the police,” he added. Just days ago, Cadungog received a text message that read: “You are being targeted for a reason I don’t know but some police officials … If anything happens to you, there will be big trouble. Be alert, your security detail … Beef up your security privately with people you can trust. Also be aware of (Senior Supt. Royina) Garma . Be careful.”
Cebu Daily News tried but failed to reach Garma, chief of the Cebu City police, who is out of the country. /with Jessa Mae O. Sotto and Benjie B. Talisic
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