COP AMONG PDEA AGENT’S KILLERS?
Was one of the assailants in the ambush-slay of anti-narcotic operative Von Rian Tecson in Carcar City on Wednesday a policeman?
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña on Thursday said he received an “unverified” information that the masked gunman who was wounded in a shootout with Tecson of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) last Wednesday was a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The police officer, the mayor said, eventually died in a hospital in Cebu City, which is about 40 kilometers from the southern city of Carcar where Tecson was ambushed and killed.
“He’s at CDU (Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital) morgue,” said Osmeña in a text message to Cebu Daily News, referring to the policeman who was supposedly shot by Tecson.
The mayor mentioned the name of the policeman but Cebu Daily News decided not to reveal it without any confirmation from the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), to which the policeman was allegedly assigned.
Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of the Central Visayas police, was in Camp Crame in Manila on Thursday to attend the Police Service Anniversary. He could not be reached for a statement. A text message sent to him was also left unanswered.
Supt. Reyman Tolentin, spokesperson of PRO-7, begged off from issuing any reaction regarding the reported death of a policeman, saying Sinas will address it once the police general returns to Cebu.
“Only our regional director can answer that,” he said.
Senior Supt. Manuel Abrugena, the director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), was also tight-lipped about the development but said they will validate the report received by Osmeña.
“We will verify that,” he said.
A staff of Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital told Cebu Daily News that they didn’t have any patient with the name given by Osmeña.
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 multiple 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 Mitsubishi Pajero.
Police officials repeatedly told reporters that they were still verifying with the different hospitals in southern Cebu and in Cebu City whether or not they treated a man with a gunshot wound last Wednesday.
As of 6 p.m. on Thursday, or about 30 hours since Tecson’s assassination in Carcar City, Abrugena and Supt. Gregorio Galsim, Carcar City police chief, said they still have to receive a word from their investigators.
‘Connect the dots’
But on Thursday morning, Osmeña told reporters in a press conference at his office that the suspect who got wounded in a shootout with Tecson was purportedly a policeman.
“They (police officials) are not confirming anything. How sad,” he said.
Osmeña said he knew the police officer and that the latter has been on his “not-so-nice” list.
“He is consistent on my list. Not so nice. Police siya. (He is a policeman),” he said.
A reliable source told Cebu Daily News that the policeman alluded to by Osmeña was under “floating status” at the Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit (RPHAU) of PRO-7.
Senior Insp. Andres Alpas, chief of the RPHAU, however, denied having a policeman under his command with the name given by the mayor.
Osmeña said it was now up to the public to connect the dots.
“I don’t want to quarrel with them (PNP). Let the people decide,” he said.
The mayor, however, again slammed police officials for saying Cebu remain’s safe amid the spate of killings.
“There’s peace and order in Cebu especially if you go to Cosmo (politan Funeral Homes). You go to (St. Peter Funeral Homes) Imus. It’s very peaceful there. That’s what they mean when they said it’s very peaceful in Cebu. The peace of the graveyard (so to speak),” Osmeña said.
Last July 30, PO3 Eugene Calumba, a member of the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Parian Police Station in Cebu City, was killed while allegedly trying to ambush the vehicle of Barangay Tejero Councilman Jessielou Cadungog along T. Padilla Extension in Cebu City.
Cadungog’s bodyguard said he was driving Cadungog’s FJ Cruiser when he noticed a motorcycle drove up to his side.
He said the backrider, who later turned out to be Calumba, tried to pull a gun from his waistband, prompting him to get his own firearm and shoot the man first.
Michael Banua, the driver of the motorcycle, was collared by barangay tanods and bystanders.
Sinas, however, turned the tables on Cadungog, saying it was the councilman and his bodyguard who attacked Calumba.
Tecson’s parents, Luzviminda and Benedicto, on Thursday sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) to help unmask their son’s killers.
“Ganahan mi diri sa NBI. (We would rather let the NBI do the investigation),” said Luzviminda without elaborating.
She and her husband also went to the Capitol to seek the help of Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III.
“My son was an awardee of the Capitol because he did a good job as a PDEA-7 agent,” Luzviminda said in Cebuano.
She believed the killing of her son had something to do with the latter’s work at PDEA-7.
“When I learned that he was ambushed, I immediately thought that it was because of his work,” the grieving mother said.
She said she has never wanted for her son to become an agent of PDEA-7 to avoid risks and threats to his life. But her son, she said, was determined to be an anti-narcotics agent.
“I told him, ‘Dong, you may earn money out of that job but you put your life in danger.’ I long accepted the fact that he may end up losing his life,” Luzviminda said.
Tecson was the second of three siblings. His older brother is a policeman who is currently assigned in Carcar City.
SPO1 Von Tecson, who was interviewed on Wednesday at the site where his brother was killed, said his brother had received death threats reportedly from a suspected drug lord whom PDEA-7 had earlier arrested.
NBI-7 Director Patricio Bernales, on the other hand, refused to issue any statement while an investigation is still being conducted.
While they mourn the death of a colleague, newly installed PDEA-7 Director Wardley Getalla said they have to move on and continue fighting the menace of illegal drugs.
“We have a mandate to fulfill and we have to continue. We will go against high-value targets and conduct high-impact operations against drug personalities,” he said.
Getalla nonetheless cautioned the agents to be careful.
“We have to be cautious and observe the security measures,” he said.
Getalla said PDEA-7 is willing to cooperate in whatever investigation conducted by the police and the NBI on Tecson’s killing.
“We’re now collating the cases handled by Tecson. If investigators need it, we can provide them all the information,” he said.
Senior Supt. Abrugena said their investigators are gathering all available evidence, including footages of the dashcam from Tecson’s car.
While witnesses were able to note the plate number of the getaway Pajero, Abrugena said they have to be careful since it could be used as a ploy to mislead investigators.
“Based on experience, any plate numbers used during crimes were fake or taken from another vehicle. Nonetheless, the plate number can help us in the
investigation,” he said.
Bizman killed in Lapu
Meanwhile, a 49-year-old businessman was killed by unknown assailants at his house in Sitio Saac, Barangay Buaya, Lapu-Lapu City, on Wednesday evening.
Ferdinand Teresito Kintanar, whose family was engaged in the distribution of soft drinks, was standing outside his residence when an assailant shot him several times.
Kintanar was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
PO1 Ian Recla of Pusok Police Station said they have yet to determine the motive behind the killing.
Investigators also have yet to identify and arrest the persons responsible for the separate shooting incidents in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu since Tuesday.
Two men were killed in separate shooting incidents while three others survived. /WITH REPORTS FROM GERARD VINCENT FRANCISCO, FE MArIE DUMABOC AND NORMAN MENDOZA
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