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2 alleged Pangasinan drug dealers killed in ‘shootout’ with cops

CAGAYAN, Philippines- Two alleged illegal drug dealers were killed in a reported shootout with police in Dagupan City, Pangasinan around 11 am on Monday, July 4.

Superintendent Christopher Abrahano, Dagupan City police chief, identified the drug suspects with their pseudonyms as certain Piggy Cornel and Opay Catungal.

In a phone interview, Abrahano told Rappler that 5 policemen conducted a buy-bust operation against Cornel and Catungal at the Tondaligan National Park in the seaside village of Bonuan Gueset.

He said the shootout happened when the suspects drew a .45 caliber gun and a hand grenade as they tried to escape. Police were able to exchange fire, killing the 2 on the spot, he said.

Abrahano said that Catungal is the top drug suspect in nearby Maliqisui town.

He added that Catungal should have only operated in Malasiqui but has been crossing boundaries, putting him under the city police's watchlist.

Cornel surrendered to a village official a week ago, but continued in drug trading, Abrahano said.

"He (Cornel) might have thought that his surrender undertaking is already his license to get off the eyes of the authorities. We monitored that his transactions are still ongoing so he became a target of [a] sting operation," Abrahano said in a mix of Filipino and English.

"So our message to those who surrendered is: your surrender doesn't mean the police will no longer go after you. Even if you signed a dozen of undertakings but you still engage in drug trading, you're still a legitimate target of neutralization," he added.

Inspired by Duterte

Abrahano admitted that they were inspired by the Duterte administration, who promised to protect them as they run after criminals.

Duterte said during the campaign period that he will pardon cops who kill criminals. One of his campaign promises is to reduce illegal drugs sale in the country.

"Although this was not the first time that we had a shootout with drug suspects, we take inspiration in the pronouncements of the new head of the Philippine National (PNP) and the new president, President Rodrigo Duterte, that we will be protected and that they will give us the legal [support] as long as we are doing the right thing," Abrahano said.

Abrahano added that illegal drugs is "one of the major pressing problems" in the city.

He said they "continue to arrest a large number of suspects and in fact consistently placed first in the number of arrested drug suspects in Ilocos Region."

Earlier, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said that 25 suspected drug dealers were killed from June 16 to 20, or an average of 5 people a day in separate operations. Duterte took his oath as President on June 30. – Rappler.com