Cebu City police chief sure cops did not fire gun that killed Skyler
MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said she was sure the police was not responsible for the death of 4-year-old Skyler Abatayo during a botched raid in the slum area of Barangay Ermita, on Tuesday, July 10.
“Walang nagpaputok sa tao ko,” said CCPO chief Senior Superintendent Royina Garma told Rappler in a phone call on Friday, July 13. “Allegations nila [Abatayo’s family] ‘yon, pero based on the counselling and paraffin [tests we conducted], walang nagpaputok sa mga tao ko.”
(No one fired a gun among our policemen. It was the family which said that. But paraffin tests show no one among our cops fired a gun.)
Paraffin tests however have long been disputed as conclusive in investigations.
Dr Nizam Peerwani, an expert forensic consultant of non-profit global organization Physicians for Human Rights, called paraffin tests “one of the crudest methods.”
Another Filipino forensic practitioner, Dr Raquel Fortun, said paraffin tests do not prove anyone’s innocence. “They shouldn't be doing paraffin tests at all,” Fortun told Rappler in a text message.
Garma however insists that the police findings will stick until the 4 drug suspects involved in the shootout surrender or give their statements. “Ang alam lang namin sa nangyari yung statements ng apat na pulis, if they [the four suspects] show up, then we will know more.” (What we know of the incident come from the statements of the 4 responding police officers.)
Garma said on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 10, Cebu City police responded to a tip from a concerned citizen from Barangay Ermita, who said an alleged group of illegal drug personalities were having a pot session and repacking shabu (methamphetamine) inside a shanty at a slum area in Sitio Bato.
She said 4 undercover cops were dispatched to the area to verify the tip. Once there, two cops went up to validate, while two others stayed outside for security backup.
Inside the shanty, Garma said two of the 4 men in session attempted to take the cops' guns. Another suspect pulled out a firearm.
“Nag-agawan na sila dito ng baril,” Garma said. (There was a scuffle to get the guns.)
A few minutes later, the cops said they heard a gunshot.
“Napatigil sila at nagtinginan kung may natamaan ba. (They stopped to see who got wounded.) The suspects took this chance to escape.”
The responding police said the 4 alleged drug suspects then ran towards a hole in the room that led to the next house.
Garma said the slum area was so congested it was like “lungga ng mga daga” (a rats' den). The two cops attempted to follow but were startled by the screaming of neighbors.
It was only at this time that the police found out 4-year old Skyler Abatayo had been hit by the stray bullet, said Garma.
She said, the neighbors then ganged up on the policemen, blaming them for the stray bullet that felled Skylar.
Despite the chaos, the police were still able to bring the boy to the hospital.
Garma said the 4 drug suspects who fled have not yet been found.
The PNP's scene of the crime operatives (SOCO) were not able to process the raided shanty, claiming it was already “contaminated” when they arrived.
SOCO were also prevented from entering the house of Skylar Abatayo, which was attached to the drug den. – Rappler.com