Philippine Daily Inquirer - - REGIONS - By Delfin T. Mallari Jr.

@dt­mal­lar­i­jrINQ LU­CENA CITY— Alarmed by the spate of drug-re­lated deaths in po­lice op­er­a­tions here, the In­te­grated Bar of the Philip­pines (IBP) in Que­zon prov­ince has of­fered to help the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies find the truth be­hind the killings.

“If the wit­nesses fear for their safety, we can re­fer them to the NBI (Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion) and be placed un­der the wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gram,” lawyer Rodolfo Za­bella Jr., IBP Que­zon pres­i­dent, said in a state­ment last week.

In a span of eight days last week, four sus­pected drug push­ers here were slain in sep­a­rate drug busts led by the po­lice. Po­lice re­ports showed that these sus­pects re­sisted ar­rest and en­gaged po­lice­men in shootouts (“nanlaban”).

Their fam­i­lies claimed that their loved ones were vic­tims of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings.


“Is it nat­u­ral for a per­son whowas alone, armed only with a ‘paltik’ (homemade gun) to shoot it out with sev­eral po­lice­men armed with bet­ter firearms?” Za­bella said.

“With­out pre­judg­ing any in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the cases, it can be read­ily seen that there is that pat­tern sim­i­lar to other sit­u­a­tions in­volv­ing ar­rests of drug sus­pects,” Za­bella added.

But Supt. Rey­dante Ariza, Lu­cena City po­lice chief, dis­missed ac­cu­sa­tions of wrong­do­ing against lo­cal po­lice­men. “Their words against our words,” he said.

Coun­cilor Rey Oliver Ale­jan­drino urged po­lice­men to sub­mit to an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Whether or not the vic­tims re­sisted ar­rest and they were first to fire at po­lice­men, the fact re­mained that they were killed by a su­pe­rior force,” Ale­jan­drino, a hu­man rights lawyer, said in a sep­a­rate state­ment.

Records of the Lu­cena po­lice showed that five sus­pected drug push­ers were slain in buy-bust op­er­a­tions in 2016, two in 2017, and 24 from Jan­uary to the sec­ond week of Novem­ber this year.

Same story

From Nov. 5 to 12, four men who had sur­ren­dered to au­thor­i­ties fol­low­ing the re­lease of a gov­ern­ment drug watch list were killed in po­lice op­er­a­tions.

They were Roldan Lav­iña, 32, of Barangay Kan­lu­rang Mayao (Nov. 12); Edilberto Jubac Jr., 33, of Iba­bang Du­pay (Nov. 8); Neil Aran­goste, 28, of Dalahi­can (Nov. 7); and Ramil Moreno, 49, also of Dalahi­can (Nov. 5).

Po­lice re­ports on these in­ci­dents car­ried the same story: “… in­stead of heed­ing the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, the sus­pect sud­denly drew his re­volver and fired [at] the poseur-buyer but missed, forc­ing the backup op­er­a­tive to re­tal­i­ate re­sult­ing [in] the death of the sus­pect.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors, ac­cord­ing to these re­ports, re­cov­ered .38-cal­iber re­volvers, bul­let cas­ings, marked money sup­pos­edly used in drug trans­ac­tions, and sa­chets of “shabu” (crys­tal meth) from the slain men.


Geraldine, Moreno’s wife, said her hus­band, a fish­er­man, was killed in front of their house.

“When I saw him still gasp­ing, I pleaded with the po­lice­man to help me bring him to the hospi­tal. But in­stead, one of them … shot him one more time and fin­ished him off,” she said.

Aran­goste was slain in his mother’s house by armed men who she pre­sumed to be po­lice­men in street clothes.

Ariza main­tained that these po­lice op­er­a­tions were “le­git­i­mate,” not­ing that the slain men, who he said were drug push­ers, re­sisted ar­rest and tried to kill po­lice­men.

Ariza said all in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of drug sus­pects were pro­vided by barangay of­fi­cials. “We don’t know the tar­gets. But we were told that they were all armed and danger­ous,” he said.


CRIME SCENE Apo­lice­man marks pieces of ev­i­dence found in the area where Roldan Lav­iña was killed.

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