Drug war widow fights back: ‘Cops murdered my husband’


MANILA, Philippines – The widow of a security guard killed by cops in a buy-bust operation in Pulilan, Bulacan, has decided to fight back, accusing the police of murder and other criminal and administrative offenses.

In a complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday, September 6, Mary Joy Sta Rita accused the following Pulilan town police officials and operatives of murder, planting of evidence, obstruction of justice, grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of a public official:

Sta Rita then accused Captain Alexander Ancheta, the investigator assigned to the case, of committing obstruction of justice, grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of a public official.

Her husband was among hundreds killed in 2018 anti-drug operations by Central Luzon cops, which have exceeded the kill numbers of Metro Manila police despite seizing less illegal drugs.

What did the cops do? The police were accused of killing Sta Rita’s husband, Jerson, in what the cops reported as a buy-bust operation on November 15, 2018. (READ: Bulacan drug war: Cops say he fought back, his wife says it was an execution)

Jerson’s case shows indications that cops initiated and executed a buy-bust at breakneck speed, despite the standing order by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that cops must be meticulous in anti-drug operations.

NANLABAN? Security Guard Jerson Sta Rita is killed by cops in a buy-bust operation in November 2018.

Sourced photo

Based on police testimonies earlier obtained by Rappler, Pulilan cops found out about Jerson's alleged drug involvement, validated this, formed a team, and mounted a police operation that led to his death all on in one day, on November 15.

All their accusations were based only on the account by an unnamed informant.

This, despite the PNP top officials repeatedly reminding cops to conduct thorough investigations in their so-called “drug war,” following reports of anti-drug operatives abusing their power and killing drug suspects – even innocent civilians – without basis.

What Mary Joy believes: For Mary Joy Sta Rita, this only meant that her husband was murdered. (READ: Women fighting: Widows, mothers of drug war casualties come together)

Pinatay ang aking asawang si Jerson Sta Rita habang nasa kustodya ng Pulilan Police. Malinaw na hinuli siya…at namatay siya…[nang] parehong araw,” Sta Rita said in her complaint-affidavit. (My husband Jerson Sta Rita was killed while under the custody of the Pulilan Police. It is clear that he was captured and died the same day.)

She added: “Malinaw na may sabwatang naganap o conspiracy dahil ayon na rin sa kanilang mga sinumpaang salaysay, pinagplanohan nila diumano ang drug buy bust operation na nagresulta sa pagpatay sa aking asawa.”

(It is clear that there was collusion and conspiracy, because according to their sworn statements, they supposedly planned the buy-bust operation that resulted in the death of my husband.) – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.