By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio and Nestle Semilla August 13,2018 - 10:36 PM

SPO1 Roderick Balili, then under the Cebu Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB), during a drug raid in Purok Golden Duranta, Sitio Tabuk, Liloan, Cebu on August 25, 2014.


A cover-up.”

This was how Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s described the pronouncement of Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), that SPO1 Roderick Balili died of accidental firing.

The mayor said the supposed death by accidental firing of Balili was meant to divert the public’s attention away from reports that the policeman had a hand in the killing of Von Rian Tecson, an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) who was ambushed and killed in Carcar City on August 8.

“It’s not an accidental firing. That’s ridiculous. You cannot shoot yourself accidentally with a Glock, especially two times because it is the safest pistol,” Osmeña said in a press conference yesterday.

“It’s a cover-up. Very clear. It just proves that the policemen are involved (in the killings). Let him sue me for libel, I will answer it. General, don’t think that the Cebuanos are stupid. We are not stupid,” he added.

He challenged Sinas to produce all their evidence — the autopsy report of Balili and the car allegedly used when the “accidental firing” took place.

“In the first (place), why does your pistol need to be handed to you in the car? That’s absurd! Then you have this weird accident that you shoot yourself three times. My God! That’s the wildest imagination.”

With Sinas receiving intense public criticism, Osmeña said the general is now the enemy of Cebu.

The mayor claimed that a doctor and nurse, who he did not identify for security reasons, told him that Balili actually suffered three gunshot wounds, not two as earlier announced by the PRO-7.

“They announced that he was dead but in stable condition, ” Osmeña quipped.

No comment

Cebu Daily News tried to get the reaction of Sinas but he declined to issue a statement.
”No comment, ” said Sinas in a text message.

In a press conference last Friday, Sinas said there was no way that Balili was involved in Tecson’s ambush because the policeman was in Pinamungajan town for surveillance at about the same time the PDEA agent was killed. The officer, however, admitted that Balili was wounded but he said it was due to an “accidental firing.”

Sinas, in the same press conference, declined to say where Balili was wounded but said he was in stable condition. Early on Saturday, however, the PRO-7 announced that Balili had died at around 8 p.m. on Friday, succumbing to two gunshot wounds in the chest.

Osmeña yesterday challenged Sinas to match the bullets recovered from the body of Balili with that of the pistol of Tecson.

“It’s going to match. I’m sure, but they are in the position to make the switch. They are in the position to cover up everything,” Osmeña said.

He appealed to people who witnessed the ambush of Tecson in Carcar City in southern Cebu to come out in the open and help uncover the truth.

He also enjoined the public to give any footage they have of any shooting incident to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Cebu and to the local media.

“If you are afraid of identifying yourself, you can also send it to me,” the mayor added.

Under investigation

Meanwhile, the two police officers who were with Balili when he “accidentally shot” himself are now being investigated by PRO-7. Supt. Reyman Tolentin, PRO-7 spokesperson, said that SPO1

Jonathan Buscato and PO1 Justine Padillo were with Balili in an alleged surveillance of a high value target in Pinamungajan town.

Tolentin said that Buscato and Padillo may be suspended or dismissed from service if proven that they were negligent in handing over the gun to Balili.

“If it will be found out nga negligent sila (there is a negligence on their part) they could face dismissal or suspension,” said Tolentin.

In earlier interviews, PRO-7 officials said that Balili was seated at the back seat of a Toyota Altis when the driver, another policeman assigned at the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG), handed over Balili’s service firearm, a Glock 9mm pistol.

As the gun was handed to him, Balili allegedly accidentally pulled the trigger when their vehicle hit a hump on the road.

However, PRO-7 has declined to disclose who between Buscato and Padillo was the driver when the incident happened.

“It has to be determined as to who handed the gun (to Balili). As of now we are still waiting for the investigation and report coming from the Regional Intelligence Division (RID),” said Tolentin.

Tolentin added that an administrative case might be filed against Buscato and Padillo.

Osmeña found a connection between the death of the Tecson and Balili with the case of Barangay Tejero Councilor, Jessielou Cadungog’s botched ambush which took the life of PO3 Eugene Calumba.

He believes that in both cases, the police tried to cover up that the police were involved in the killings.

“Na-ambush si Cadungog nya ang resulta, the General said nga sila’y gi-ambush (Cadungog was ambushed yet the result was that the General said that the police were the ones ambushed),” said Osmeña.

Osmeña admits that he does not know who the next targets of the killings will be as some of them may be politically related aside from being drug-

Recently, Cebu City Police Director, Senior Superintendent Royina Garma, challenged Tomas to report to the police the threats he has received in order to verify them.

Osmeña refuses to reveal the threats to the police because he believes that they only want to know who leaked the information to him.

“The information said that the ‘police aborted the plan.’ There must be someone on the inside and they want to find out who leaked the information,” said Osmeña.

Osmeña revealed that one of the city prosecutors was threatened allegedly for some cases that involved police killings.

Meanwhile, Osmeña is not worried on cases filed against Councilor Dave Tumulak for grave threat, grave coercion and physical injuries at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7).

Tumulak allegedly beat Michael Banua, the motorcycle driver of Calumba.

Yet Osmeña is confident about the case because the CCTV revealed that Banua was beaten even before Tumulak came to the scene.

“This is their way of intimidating the people of Cebu. They are trying to set the tone,” said Osmeña.

Osmeña believes that the mandate from PRO-7 to take pictures of any visitor to the wake of slain police SPO1 Adonis Dumpit upon his death last June was also a clear intimidation.

“Now, I am convinced that Dumpit was executed by the police because he was poor,” said Osmeña.

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