By: Intern, Nestle L. Semilla September 04,2018 - 11:07 PM


The top official of Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) expressed dismay over the decision of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) for filing a case against the three policemen in relation to the death of stray bullet victim 4-year-old Bladen Skyler Abatayo.

Senior Supt. Royina Garma, the director of CCPO, said she was no longer surprised that NBI-7 pushed through with the case even as she could not accept that it had to come from another government law enforcement agency.

“Anticipated ko na NBI will do their best to demoralize the PNP (Philippine National Police) lalo na ang (especially the) Cebu City police,” said Garma in an interview on Tuesday.

Garma said that she could not understand why the NBI-7 was attacking the police when they are the same law enforcement agencies.

Garma then lashed out at NBI-7, which, she said, has a “personal agenda” against the police.

“I don’t know why, they are supposed to be our partners,” added Garma.

“We’re all plastic”

But Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, the director of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), would rather not comment on the action of NBI-7.

However, he said they would stand firm on their earlier statement that none of their police officers fired the gun that killed the 4-year-old boy.

“I will not comment on them. Di ko ganahan anang mag comment, mag-away mi openly. Let the evidence speak for itself (I don’t want to comment because I don’t want to openly fight with them),” said Sinas.

Sinas said that whatever the NBI-7 has against the police, the police will face it in court.

He also did not believe it would affect their relationship with NBI-7.

“Whether kinsa naa diha (NBI) di man maapektuhan. Puro man mi plastik. So magplinastikay na lang mi,” said Sinas. (Nobody will be affected. We are good at pretending. So we can both feign friendship.)

The complaint

The NBI-7, on August 1, recommended the filing of charges against Senior Insp. John Kareen Escobar, chief of the Carbon Police Station; and two other policemen from the same station, PO1 Wilbert Perez and PO1 Rey Van Dadula.

A nine-page complaint letter that was sent by NBI-7 to the Office of the Ombudsman accused Escobar of falsification by public officer, dereliction of duty, obstruction of justice and grave misconduct. Perez was accused of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide while Dadula was charged with dereliction of duty.

Abatayo was killed by a stray bullet fired during a police anti-drug operation in the house adjoining that of his family’s home in Sitio Bato, Barangay
Ermita, Cebu City, on July 10.

The police had insisted that the bullet that killed Skyler was fired by one of the suspects, but the boy’s family and neighbors said it came from one of the policemen involved in the operation.

It was then that the boy’s family sought the help of NBI-7 to ferret out the truth behind the boy’s death.


When asked by reporters if she thought that NBI-7 was making the investigation a personal issue, Garma said: “What do you think? Ano sa tingin ninyo? Na-demoralize kami (we were demoralized).”

Garma said the case of Abatayo was not the only case taken personally by NBI-7.

“If they (NBI) have problem, we should be talking to each other. Sa case pa lang ni (Tejero Barangay Councilman Jessilou) Cadungog, we should have sat down and ano ba kailangan mo total pareho lang naman na iniimbestigahan natin. Pero wala eh,” said Garma.

(If they have problem, we should be talking to each other. Just like in the case of Tejero Barangay Councilman Jessilou Cadungog, we should have sat down and talked about what we needed to do since we were investigating the same case. But it did not happen.)

NBI-7 also investigated the case of Cadungog and his driver William Macaslang Jr. whom the police accused of murder for the killing of PO3 Eugene Calumba.

Cadungog had however insisted that it was him who was targeted for assassination by Calumba and the latter’s motorcycle driver Michael Banua on July 30.

Macaslang, on the other hand, said he fired at Calumba because he allegedly saw the policeman pulling out a gun from his waist and was believed to be about to fire at Cadungog’s vehicle.

It was only after Calumba was shot and killed that it was learned that he was a policeman assigned at the Parian Police Station.

Last month, the panel of prosecutors from the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the murder complaint filed against the village official over the failure of the police to prove that Cadungog was involved in the killing of Calumba.

However, Macaslang was indicted by the same panel of prosecutors for a lower crime of homicide for shooting and killing Calumba and for attempted homicide, for firing his gun at Banua.

Garma believed the NBI-7 has personal issues against the police, hence the filing of case.

“They (NBI) are doing this to us, so we will just have to face it. We will face it,” said Garma.

The mayor, too?

Garma also surmised that Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña had a hand in the move of the NBI-7.

She said that the mayor was obviously intervening in these cases, especially the ones that involved Cadungog.

“Obvious ba? From the very start there is already an intervention. Noong nagkaroon ng arraignment kay Cadungog, the mayor was there,” said Garma.
(Is it obvious? From the very start there is already an intervention. When there was an arraignment for Cadungog, the mayor was there.)

She added that Osmeña was not only present once during the arraignment, but twice.

But on his Facebook post, Osmeña said that NBI has never been under his control and remains a trustworthy law enforcement agency.

He then lauded the agency for filing charges against the policemen involved in the death of Abatayo.

“It’s nice to know there are still some law enforcers out there willing to stand up for what’s right,” Osmeña said in a Facebook post.

Sought for his comment, the new officer-in-charge of NBI-7 Dominador Cimafranca refused to give a statement.

“I’ll just withhold my comment because I don’t know and I haven’t heard their (the police’s) statements,” Cimafranca told Cebu Daily News. /WITH USJ-R JOURNALISM INTERN DELTA DYRECKA C. LETIGIO

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