Philippine National Police

Cop allegedly asked witness to say Jemboy Baltazar had illegal drugs

Jairo Bolledo

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Cop allegedly asked witness to say Jemboy Baltazar had illegal drugs

LAID TO REST. Jemboy Baltazar, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed by members of the Navotas police, is brought to the San Lorenzo Ruiz Church before his funeral, on August 16, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

If ever Senator Risa Hontiveros' revelation will be proven true, it will not be the first time the police used the illegal drugs narrative as an excuse in the killing of a person

MANILA, Philippines – A cop allegedly asked a witness in the killing of 17-year-old Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar to say that the teenager had illegal drugs, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros revealed in a Senate hearing on Tuesday, August 22.

Sinabihan po ang isang witness ng isang armado na nagpakilalang pulis na, and I quote, ‘Sabihin na may droga si Jemboy.’ Amin itong kinumpirma sa abogado niya,” Hontiveros said during the hearing of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.

(An armed person who identified him/herself as a police told one of the witnesses, and I quote, “Say that Jemboy had drugs.” We confirmed this to the witness’ lawyer.)

Hontiveros, including other senators present during the hearing, have yet to provide more details on the supposed attempt of an alleged police to coerce one of the witnesses. The Tuesday hearing was the first inquiry held by the Senate on the teenager’s killing. The other chamber, the House, has yet to hold or schedule a hearing.

On August 2, Jemboy was killed by cops while he and his friend were cleaning their boat in a river near their house in Barangay NBBS Kaunlaran, Navotas City. Jemboy’s family said the boy sustained gunshot wounds, and then fell into the water, where he was submerged for almost three hours.

Cop allegedly asked witness to say Jemboy Baltazar had illegal drugs

Forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun, who examined the teenager’s remains, said Jemboy died of brain injuries, with drowning as a contributing factor. Jemboy was laid to rest on August 16 in La Loma Cemetery.

During the hearing, Hontiveros also reprimanded the police over their operation that led to the killing of another innocent individual: “Si Jemboy, na nananahimik at naghahanda ng pang-hanapbuhay, itinuring na agad na kahina-hinala at pinaulanan ng bala. Six versus one, according to reports…Aba, ano’ng akala niyo sa mga mamamayan, pang-target practice?

(Jemboy, who was innocently preparing for his livelihood, was tagged as suspicious and was gunned down. Six versus one, according to reports. What do you think of our people, dummies for your target gun practice?)

If ever Hontiveros’ revelation will be proven true, it would not be the first time that the police used the illegal drugs narrative as an excuse in the killing of a person.

When Kian delos Santos was brutally killed by cops in Caloocan City in August 2017, the police claimed the teenager was a “drug courier.” Kian’s family immediately refuted the police’s narrative and vouched for Kian’s good character.

In another instance, in Carl Arnaiz’s case, he was killed by the police in an alleged shootout in 2017. Fast forward to November 2022, a Caloocan court convicted Patrolman Jefrey Perez for torture and planting of evidence in relation to his and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman’s case. The court said the police committed the crime of planting illegal drugs and ammunition to make it appear that there was a shootout with Arnaiz.


It was also revealed on Tuesday that the six cops tagged in Jemboy’s killing – Police Executive Master Sergeant Roberto Balais Jr., Police Staff Sergeant (PSSg.) Antonio Bugayong, PSSg. Gerry Maliban, PSSg. Nikko Pines Esquillon, Police Corporal Edmark Jake Blanco, and Patrolman Benedict Mangada – were released from detention further pending investigation.

Adult, Male, Man
IN ATTENDANCE. The six Navotas cops who tagged in the killing of 17-year-old Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar, take their oath on August 22, 2023, during a Senate hearing. Angie de Silva/Rappler

The six were originally detained at the Navotas City police station for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Aside from them, other cops also face administrative charges and have been relieved from their posts, including former Navotas police chief Colonel Allan Umipig.

Captain Mark Joseph Carpio, among the team leaders who led the operation where Jemboy was killed, said during the hearing that he did not see Jemboy jumping off the boat. He added they did not see the teenager in the boat, only his friend.

Carpio made a change of tune, because Umipig earlier claimed that Jemboy jumped off the boat, and then was shot by cops. It was also impossible that Jemboy was not seen by the cops because the teenager sustained gunshot wounds and was killed in the river.

Jemboy’s sister, Jessa, told Rappler in an earlier interview that cops even tried to bar them from getting near her brother. This means the police were well-aware that the teenager was in the river at the time of the operation.

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The senators also questioned Maliban, one of the suspects, who earlier faced dismissal from service for a different offense. The cop said he was able to continue serving in the police because of his motion for reconsideration.

Maliban did not respond to the senators’ queries in relation to Jemboy’s killing.

Due to Carpio’s confusing remarks, and Maliban’s non-cooperation, Hontiveros moved to cite them in contempt. Senator Raffy Tulfo supported the motion, and Senator Ronald dela Rosa, as the committee chair, approved the contempt.

Carpio and Maliban are now detained at the Senate due to the contempt order. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.