Vigilante says police claim their kills in Tondo
MANILA, Philipines – At least two suspects supposedly neutralized during police operations were really killed by a vigilante group in Tondo, Manila, upon orders of the police.
In the 3rd of the 7-part Murder in Manila series, "Get It From the Chief," sources claimed that 35-year-old John Mark Mendoza alias "Toyo" and a certain Sitoy were killed by the Confederate Sentinels Group (CSG) Tondo Chapter 2, a vigilante group allegedly backed by the police.
A 6-month investigation led by Patricia Evangelista and Carlo Gabuco found that the details narrated by one of Toyo's men and Simon*, a member of the CSG, contradicted official police e-blotter reports accessed by Rappler.
In the case of Toyo, one of his men told Rappler that witnesses saw Ricardo Villamonte, alias Commander Maning, allegedly kill his boss "except none of them will talk." Commander Maning is the alleged leader of the CSG.
In an interview with Rappler, Maning said he knew nothing about Toyo's death.
A police e-blotter, however, showed that Toyo was killed during an Operation Tokhang in July 2016, after he allegedly put up a fight.
Rappler's sources said the order of battle extended to all of Toyo's remaining men upon his death.
One of them was Sitoy, who liked to wear a pair of grenades on a string around his neck. In January 2017, Simon told Rappler that CSG members "shot him in the ass so he couldn't run. And then he went for his grenade. The pin was taped down and he was ripping it off. So we shot him again."
The vigilantes eventually called the police who arrived with a bomb squad. The killing of Sitoy, according to Simon, was ordered by the police.
Despite Sitoy's death being called a "CSG kill," a police e-blotter report indicated that he was cornered after police hunted down a group of men who robbed a jeepney. Cops shot at him when he fought back.
Police Superintendent Robert Domingo, station commander of Manila Police District-Police Station 1 at the time, even said on national television that the cops "had no choice."
Domingo is alleged to have ordered other killings carried out by CSG Tondo Chapter 2. Domingo declined to comment despite repeated requests.
All quotes in Filipino have been translated into English. At their request, Rappler has changed or withheld names of sources for their own safety.