Southern Leyte

Cop suspect in Maasin, Southern Leyte, slay now under provincial police custody

Inday Espina-Varona
Cop suspect in Maasin, Southern Leyte, slay now under provincial police custody

COPS IN CUSTODY. The Southern Leyte Provincial Police Office has placed under restrictive custody one cop facing a homicide complaint for the December 9 death of Gilbert Ranes, and four others under internal investigation for a possible administrative case.

The postmortem report by Dr. April Macabuhay of the Maasin Rural Health Unit cites severe head trauma as the the cause of death of theft suspect Gilbert Ranes

The cop accused of administering the beating that resulted in the death of theft suspect Gilbert Dalogdog Ranes, 34, on Friday, December 9, in Maasin City is now under restrictive custody, Southern Leyte Provincial Police Office (SLPPO) Director Hector Enage announced on Tuesday, December 13.

“We are in sorrow over what happened,” Enage said at a press conference. “We have conveyed this to the family of the victim.”

In a phone interview with Rappler, Enage said investigators had filed a homicide complaint with Maasin City prosecutors against PSSG Ronald Gamayon, an intelligence officer assigned to the SLPPO.

“We’re just waiting for the case number,” he said.

Enage said four other members of the Maasin City Police Office had been disarmed and restricted to the provincial police headquarters while the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) investigates a possible administrative case against them.

“I am very serious. Someone died. Someone must be accountable,” the provincial police chief said.

‘WE ARE SERIOUS.’ Southern Leyte Provincial Police Office (SLPPO) director, PCol. Hector Enage, says a homicide complaint has been filed with the Maasin City prosecutor’s office against SLPPO intelligence officer PSSG Ronald Gamayon for the December 9, 2022, death of theft suspect Gilbert Ranes while in police custody. Screencap of Enage press conference

Enage’s press conference came two days after three videos of the incident went viral of Facebook.

The first showed a man beating Ranes on a street curb, in full view of commuters. The second showed Ranes unconscious in a police station, with the voice of an unidentified man saying in Binisaya, “Tiwasan Nlaman ni!” (Finish him off!) The third video showed men carrying Ranes to what looked like a police vehicle.

BRAZEN. In full view of commuters, a cop bashes the head of a theft suspect in Maasin City, Southern Leyte, on December 9, 2022, as shown in a video that went viral on December 11.

The provincial police chief said two witnesses had come forward to testify on the curbside beating. But he asked the owner of the videos to step forward as a witness, “so our case will be stronger.”

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Enage said Ranes allegedly entered a bakery in Barangay Mantahan around 7 pm on December 9 and stole a mobile phone.

His victim called for help as he exited, leading civilians outside to grab him,

Enage said residents in area were the first to beat up Ranes.

Enage said Gamayon, who was off duty, was passing by. The cop “pacified the crowd” and took custody of Ranes.

“We don’t know why, but it is clear that the policeman beat up the suspect,” Enage said in the local language.

Maasin police station scene

Responders from the Maasin police helped transport Ranes to the police station, he added.

The victim was conscious on arrival at the Maasin police station.

“They were booking him, taking his fingerprints. Then he complained about difficulty of breathing,” said Enage, quoting police investigators.

Soon after, Ranes collapsed.

That was when a still unidentified person captured the “tiwasan nilaman ni” scene, where pairs of black leather shoes surrounded the victim.

Cops called the fire station for a medic, Enage said. They tried to revive Ranes, but decided to bring him to the provincial hospital in the city at around 8 pm.

“He was still alive. Doctors treated him. They pronounced him dead around 11 pm,” the police chief said.

A police update on the case said the postmortem conducted by Dr. April Macabuhay of the Maasin Rural Health Unit said Ranes died of severe head trauma.

The report said there were periorbital hematoma on both eyes, multiple abrasions on left and right cheeks and face, and multiple abrasions of the right substernal area, hematoma and swelling of the right temporal area of the face, multiple abrasions on the right extremity posterior forearm, and contusions and multiple abrasions mid-anterior chest.

“It is very clear that there were lapses [by the Maasin police] in police operational procedures on the treatment of suspects,” Enage said, adding that investigators had immediately identified who were on duty the night Ranes died.

The provincial police chief said he learned of Ranes’ death on Saturday, December 10.

“The following day, when i got the progress report, I immediately launched a probe,” he added. “Someone died. Someone must be accountable, must be liable.”

Witnesses

By Sunday, investigators managed to get two witnesses to the beating.

“First hour of Monday (December 12), I ordered Gamayon disarmed, and recalled him to headquarters,” said the police chief.

“We are very serious. Police need to observe the rule of law,” Enage told Rappler.

He said the viral videos were not complete.

“Bystanders had also beat him up,” but he called Gamayon’s blows “the last touch.”

He said investigators had talked with the family, who had yet to undertake an affidavit.

“They are probably still very troubled,” Enage pointed out. “They may need some time.”

But he urged the person who captured the video scenes and other witnesses to help with the case.

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t post on social media, but we can not use those videos in court unless the owner testifies,” he explained.

“If you feel you cannot go to the local police, please come to me directly, so we can take immediate action,” he said at the press conference.

“Our police are professional, though I cannot deny this incident. We want to show that we are fair,” Enage said. – Rappler.com

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