Cops in bloody Negros Oriental operations took victims' money – relatives

 

NEGROS ORIENTAL, Philippines – The policemen involved in the bloody operations that killed 14 people in a single day allegedly took the cash and belongings of the victims and their families.

They also claimed that policemen wore masks when they stormed the houses of the victims during the wee hours of March 30. 

Sacked Negros Oriental police chief Colonel Raul Tacaca earlier said that all of the fatalities were suspected members of the New People's Army who allegedly resisted arrest as cops served search warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

A total of 8 people were killed in Canlaon City, 4 in Manjuyod town, and two in Sta Catalina town in the March 30 operations.

The families of the victims, however, told a different story. They described the operations as “brutal” as the cops, who reportedly wore bonnets, still executed the victims even if they had already yielded to them. They also noted irregularities in the raids. 

'He pleaded for his life'

Valentin Acabal, chieftain of Barangay Candabong in Manjuyod town, was still sleeping with this wife and two children – a 17-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl – when the police broke down their door at around 4 am. 

His wife, Angenate, recalled that they knelt down and prayed, but the policemen forced her and her daughter out of their room. She said her husband pleaded for his life but was still shot to death inside the room.  

PLEAS NOT HEARD. Angenate Acabal recalls that her husband Valentin surrendered to the police during the operation in their home in Manjuyod town on March 30, 2019, but was still shot to death. Photo by Marchel Espina/Rappler

PLEAS NOT HEARD. Angenate Acabal recalls that her husband Valentin surrendered to the police during the operation in their home in Manjuyod town on March 30, 2019, but was still shot to death.

Photo by Marchel Espina/Rappler

Based on the medical examination of the Manjuyod Municipal Health Office, the victim sustained 7 gunshot wounds, including in his genitals.  

Argie Acabal, the victim’s son, said no one from the Scene of the Crime Operatives processed the crime scene.

“The municipal police took my father. They wrapped him in a bed sheet and put him in the patrol car to bring him to the hospital. They already knew he’s dead, but they would still bring him to the hospital,” he said. 

He said the name in the search warrant was Eric Acabal, and not Valentin, although the nickname of his father was Eric. He added the policemen did not announce they had a search warrant.  

Argie, a Filipino worker based in Qatar who came home a day after his father was killed, also said that the policemen took their money. “They took the P30,000 I sent to my family. They also took the P7,000 that was kept in a locked box. The P7,000 is from the Church where my mother was a treasurer,” he added.

He said the state forces found a .45 caliber that was supposedly owned by his father at the table outside his parents’ room. He denied it was owned by the victim.  

'Planted' evidence

Another family in Canlaon City suffered the same fate. Brothers Edgardo and Ismael Avelino didn’t see daylight after they were killed in their homes in Barangay Panubigan. 

SLAIN BROTHERS. Wake of brothers Edgardo and Ismael Avelino who were killed in their homes in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental on March 30, 2019. Photo by Marchel Espina/Rappler

SLAIN BROTHERS. Wake of brothers Edgardo and Ismael Avelino who were killed in their homes in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental on March 30, 2019.

Photo by Marchel Espina/Rappler

Carmela Avelino, Edgardo’s wife, said it was around 2 am when she was awoken by the yell of her daughter.

“I thought there was a snake that came inside our house. I was looking for the snake in our bed. Then I opened the curtain, I was shocked when I saw 5 guns pointing at us,” she said. 

Carmela said that she and her two children were ushered out of their house while her husband was left in the room. Then she heard 3 gunshots. “They look at people as animals. They have a shoot-to-kill order,” she said.

She said the policemen claimed they found a .45 caliber and M16 in their house.

“The .45 caliber was placed in the pool of blood while the M16 was found beside the closet. It was not ours or my husband’s. I told them I know they planted it,” the grieving wife said. 

REENACTMENT. Carmela Avelino shows that her husband Edgardo was shot in the head during the police operation in their home in Canlaon City on March 30, 2019. Photo by Marchel Espina/Rappler

REENACTMENT. Carmela Avelino shows that her husband Edgardo was shot in the head during the police operation in their home in Canlaon City on March 30, 2019.

Photo by Marchel Espina/Rappler

She said she did not believe the police claim that her husband fought back –  her 16-year-old daughter heard her father plead to the police, saying that he would surrender but asked them to spare his family.  

Carmela said her daughter was traumatized because of the incident. She also said the police didn’t process the crime scene and didn’t show them a search warrant at the start of the operation.

“After few hours, an ambulance came to bring my husband to the hospital,” she added.

She said that the police also took their two cellphones, a tablet, and P2,000 cash. “I have P5,000, but they only returned P3,000,” she added. 

Stench of blood

Minutes after Edgardo was killed, gunshots were again heard from a nearby house. His younger brother, Ismael, was also a subject of the police operation.  

Leonora, Ismael’s wife, said policemen stormed their house and yelled, “Dapa! Dapa! (Down on the floor! Down on the floor!)” 

She and her two minor children were directed to get out of the house. She said she had no idea her husband was the subject of the police operation as the cops did not show any search warrant.  

“Around 5 am, an ambulance came. I didn’t know they took my husband. We’re then told to go to the hospital. When we’re already there, that’s when I realized they killed him already. In just one snap, my husband is gone,” Leonora said. 

She said the police claimed that her husband was holding a .45 caliber and resisted arrest. 

Leonora said no one from SOCO processed the crime scene. She said she waited, but nobody came back. “We just cleaned it because of the stench from the blood,” she said.

She added that they weren’t able to take pictures as their cellphone was taken, too. 

Meanwhile, former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares visited the wake of some of the victims on Friday, April 5, to condole with their families. 

He said the Philippine National Police should release the names of those who conducted the operations. 

Farmers' and rights groups have already launched the National Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission to investigate the case, while various groups have condemned the killings.

Three days after the killings, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde sacked Negros Oriental police chief Colonel Raul Tacaca and the police chiefs of Santa Catalina, Manjuyod, and Canlaon City. – Rappler.com