CHR-7 ACCUSES POLICE OF COVER-UP
CASES INVOLVING COPS
The hope of finding justice for at least 27 lives lost in mostly drug-related cases lies in the hands of the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7).
But none of these cases has made significant progress, said CHR-7 Chief Investigator Leo Villarino.
The reason? “The zero compliance” of the Philippine National Police (PNP-7) to the document and appearance requests sent by the CHR-7 investigation department.
“It is sad to say that we’re not making so much progress in our investigations. We are no longer expecting anything from the police but still [we will pursue with our investigations]. We will be relying now from the facts that we gathered in the community,” Villarino said.
By refusing to cooperate with CHR in the investigation of cases involving policemen, Villarino said the PNP-7 could be accused of attempting to hide the truth.
“Well, you can view it that way. That’s part of the cover-up. Why don’t they (police hierarchy) want us to question their people?” Villarino said.
Out of the 27 cases of killings officially docketed for investigation in CHR-7, Villarino said 13 were deaths that happened during police operations. The rest were killings suspected to be related to the war on drugs
Among them were the killings of SPO1 Adonis Dumpit, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) agents Baby “Earl” Rallos and Von Rian Tecson, Senior Insp. Raymond Hortezuela, and 4-year-old Bladen Skyler Abatayo.
Dumpit and Hortezuela were both killed in what police officials claimed to be legitimate operations, as they were tagged to be involved in the illegal drugs trade.
The two PDEA-7 agents, Rallos and Tecson, were both killed in separate ambush incidents that involved assailants that were riding in tandem on motorcycles.
Abatayo, a kindergarten pupil, was inside his room in Sitio Bato, Barangay Ermita, when he was killed by a stray bullet during a botched anti-drug police operation at a nearby shanty.
“They (PNP) made zero compliance in all of our requests for documents and appearance. Not a single piece of paper has been given to us despite the subpoena that we sent them nor a single police officer has appeared in our office to cooperate in the investigations being conducted,” Villarino said.
“They do not want to be held accountable. They do not want to have the responsibility to be looked into. If you translate that, that will eventually lead to impunity — no accountability. All they want is for us to believe whatever story that they tell us. That is not investigation after all, that’s mere story telling,” he added.
Follow the order
But Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of the Central Visayas police, said the order not to release any information about their operations without approval from the PNP headquarters came from President Rodrigo Duterte, their commander in chief.
“All these directives came from the commander in chief. We’re just following orders,” he said in an interview.
The order, he said, stated that all requests for the release of information about police operations shall be sent to the PNP and the Office of the President.
“Unless approved by the national office, there’s an order barring us from giving any information about our operations,” Sinas said.
“Let us just wait whether or not any request for the release any information about their operations will be approved by the Office of the President. Without any approval, we won’t be giving what the CHR or other entities asked from us,” he added.
Sinas said the Commission on Human Rights has been aware of the existing order since they were furnished with the copy of the directive from the President.
But Villarino said this directive made the police looked like they were hiding something.
“SPO1 [Roderick] Balili for instance, if it were true that he died following an accidental firing, why don’t they present the people who were with him? I don’t even think that they subjected Balili’s gun for ballistics exam. That should have been part of the police routine work and General Sinas knows that well because he was formerly the chief of the PNP crime lab,” he added.
Balili was tagged by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña as one of the gunmen who ambushed Tecson.
Osmeña claimed that the reports that had reached him pointed to a SPO1 Roderick Balili as the person who was rushed to a private hospital in Naga City after the ambush of Tecson on Aug. 8 in the adjoining city of Carcar in southern Cebu.
Arnulfo Bauyaban, the driver of Tecson’s vehicle, claimed that Tecson was able to fire at his assailants and wounded one of them.
Two weeks after the death of Tecson, the police have still to identity the perpetrators.
Supt. Gregorio Galsim, chief of the Carcar City Police Office, said they were not giving up in trying to unmask the perpetrators behind the crime.
“We continue to conduct verifications. We’re not losing hope that we can have closure to this kind. Hopefully, we’ll get the assailants,” he said in an interview.
Supt. Artemio Ricabo, deputy director for administration of the Cebu City Police Office, also said they were still investigating the killing of Rallos.
“All that we wanted from the police is for them to give us the official documents for us to get their side of the story because that is part of the due process. But now that they are avoiding us, it seems that they are waiving that right already. They cannot question us whatever recommendation we will come up against them anymore,” Villarino said.
Villarino also warned the police that their noncooperation in the investigations of the CHR “will eventually bear fruit.”
On Thursday, Villarino spoke before members of cause-oriented groups and the families of the victims of the recent spate of killings during a forum organized by Nagpakabanang Sugbuanon alang sa Kinabuhi ug Hustisya (Nasukhu).
Nasukhu, a coalition of at least 49 Nongovernment Organizations (NGOs), cause-oriented and militant groups against killings, crafted a manifesto denouncing the recent killings, most of which remained unsolved.
The manifesto was furnished to CHR-7 through Villarino.
The groups consisting of at least 300 members, marched from P. del Rosario Extension to the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) in Camp Sergio Osmeña in Cebu City.
Teresa Fernandez of PILIPINA Cebu and lawyer Vincent Isles of Tindig Pilipinas submitted their manifesto to the desk officer at PRO-7, who initially declined to accept the manifesto as it had no accompanying letter or any addressee.
“We call on the local governments to launch independent investigation on the spate of killings and ensure that those involved are held accountable,” the manifesto read.
Sinas said that he was willing to dialogue with members of the Nasukhu and study the contentions presented in the manifesto of the group.
Nasukho members proceeded to Colon Street to conduct an indignation protest over the spate of killings in Cebu. / WITH REPORTS FROM WRITING EDITOR ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL AND USJ-R JOURNALISM INTERN DELTA DYRECKA C. LETIGIO
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