MANILA, Philippines – Two incidents in one night last July – one in Tondo and the other in Taguig. Another incident days later in early August. All 3 involved deaths supposedly linked to drugs.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath last June 30, more than 800 people have been killed in drug-related police operations. The number excludes victims of summary executions.
Police officers fire at those who resist arrest – “nanlaban” is how they are described. Other victims, believed to have died in the hands of unidentified vigilantes, have a different tally sheet, and now number more than a thousand.
We witnessed part of police operations* from a distance and this is what we saw.
July 28, 2016 – 01:05 am Tondo, Manila
Death by cardboard
Roque Denero, a roving tanod of Barangay 128, Tondo, found the lifeless body of a man at R10 bridge.
Police identified the victim as Jaime Ong Bayaca, a 40-year-old Chinese-Filipino from Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya, who resided in Tikay Malolos, Bulacan.
Found among the victims’ belongings was his passport which confimed his identity and an NBI clearance which said he has no criminal record.
Bayaca was found with multiple stab wounds. His face was wrapped in duct tape and he had a metal wire around his neck. His body was thrown on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that said, “Drug lord ako (Chinese).” (I am a Chinese drug lord.)
July 28, 2016 – 03:24 am Barangay Katuparan, Taguig City
‘They fired first’
Three men were killed and one cop was wounded in another buy-bust operation in Barangay Katuparan, Taguig City.
“Mga tao rin po kami, may pamilya rin po kami. Kung makukuha po naming buhay at walang masusugatan gagawin po namin. Pero nauna pong duguan yung pulis namin, kailangan niya rin pong gumanti at papasok pa lang po kami, pinutukan na kami, kita naman sa mga ebidensya na nandyan. Dun pa lang ay mapapatunay na wala kaming nilabag na human rights,” said Senior Inspector Wilfredo Sangel of the Southern Police District-District Anti-illegal Drugs (SPD-DAID) unit.
(We are also human. We also have families. If we can arrest the suspects alive without anybody getting hurt, we will do it. But one of our men was the first to be wounded so he had to retaliate. The evidence will prove that they fired on us first. From there, we can already say we didn’t violate human rights.)
The 3 fired at the policemen, but only two of them were identified as pushers: 37-year-old Police Officer 3 Leonilo Quiambao of National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and 40-year-old homeowner Brian Oliveros. SPD reports said the fatalities were on their watchlist.
The other person killed was Edwin Reyes, 46, from Nueva Ecija.
“Nagkaputukan na, 'pag sa ganung sitwasyon mahirap na nating ma-identify kung sino yung pusher sa tatlo. Sa pangyayaring iyon ang identified lang dun yung may-ari ng bahay na ni buy-bust nga namin saka yung pulis na nagbabagsak [ng droga]. Pero kung pumutok din siya, hindi na niya kailangan maging pusher para anuhan [putukan ng baril],” said Sangel when asked about the profiles of the alleged suspects.
(There was an exchange of fire. In that situation, it’s difficult to identify who among the 4 is the pusher. The only identified pusher was the homeowner and the police. But if a person fires his gun, he doesn’t need to be a pusher for policemen to fire at him.)
Just before dusk, a distressed son walked in and said he hadn’t seen his father for about 4 months.
Shawn Oliveros, 20, son of the killed drug suspect Brian Oliveros, arrived at the scene — drunk, shocked, and clueless about what was happening. He said he had no idea about his father's illegal activities.
“Masakit po para sa 'kin pero kung ganun din po yung balita sa kanya thankful na din po ako dahil naputol. Pero masakit sa 'kin kasi papa ko po 'yun eh, tatay ko 'yun,” said Shawn, as he grieved his dead father.
(It hurts, but if that's what the news says about him, I'm also thankful that it has ended. But it hurts because he’s my father.)
August 05, 2016 – 02:03 am Sta. Ana, Manila
The pusher and his fatal wounds
The cause of death of an alleged member of the criminal syndicate “Bahala na Gang” was no different.
A 21-year-old gang member identified as John Paul Martinez was dead on the spot after an encounter with the MPD-Station 6.
The poseur-buyer Police Officer 1 Mark John Ala managed to purchase P200 worth of shabu (methamphetamine) before Martinez drew his revolver – after sensing he was dealing with a police officer.
Ala immediately fired at Martinez, who died not long after. His associates were arrested as he lay dead on the wooden floor of his residence. – Rappler.com
*Editor's Note: We tweaked this for more clarity in the description of what we saw. We saw a post-encounter investigation being conducted by a responding Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) unit after suspects were killed.