CEBU, Philippines — A span of 24 hours saw the deaths of eight people yesterday; six were shot dead by policemen for allegedly resisting arrest during separate buy-bust operations in San Fernando town and Talisay City, and two were found executed, one of them in the style of Mexican drug cartels.
In San Fernando town, Keinlee Artista, 24, a resident of Barangay San Isidro, San Fernando; John Almon Abrenica, and Juanito Palagtiosa, both residents of Lawaan, Talisay City, Cebu, were shot dead when a buy-bust operation around 1:30 a.m. yesterday went awry.
Police Major Lymel Pasquin, chief of the San Fernando Police Station, said that the three shot at the police.
“Sila po yung unang ano diyan nakaputok sa ano naming,” Pasquin said.
Pasquin also said that they have been monitoring the suspects for quite some time now.
“’Yong sa isang subject almost one month po ‘yong monitoring, ‘yong sa dalawa naman po mga ganun din po mga one month mahigit,” he added.
Recovered from the suspects were several weapons and 15 packs of suspected shabu.
In Talisay City the other day, three drug suspects were also killed during a buy-bust operation in Sitio San Lucas, Barangay Biasong.
Those killed were identified as Julie Daugdaug, 30; Anisito Daugdaug, 31; and Vernabe Suello, of legal age, all residents of said place,
Police Captain Nazarino Emia, deputy chief of Talisay City Police Station, said Julie, the subject of operation, sold drugs to the poseur-buyer but then realized he was dealing with policemen. He tried to shut the door of his house and policemen tried to hold him off. Policemen later said they heard Julie’s companions fire their guns and they took cover and returned fire.
Emia said the shootout lasted about 10 minutes until they neutralized the suspects. They took them to the Talisay City District Hospital but they were all declared dead on arrival.
Police Major Orlando Carag Jr., chief of Talisay City Police Station, said the suspects were linked to Girlie Luage, who was also killed in a drug operation last April 29.
Aside from those killed in buy-bust operations, police also found the body of Jerh Sigue tied to an electric post in Sitio Bogo, Barangay Campo 4, akin to how Mexican cartels display their victims.
Sigue, of legal age, a resident of Sitio Sombria, Barangay Lawaan 1, had been blindfolded and tied to the post by his hands and neck. He also had several gunshot wounds.
A placard was placed on his body that read: “UNDANG NA LAGE MO UG DILI GANI KAMO NA ISUNOD TULISAN, DRUG PUSHER, KILLER/DRUGLORDS”.
The security guard of a construction firm nearby said he was in the bunkhouse when he heard several gunshots around 2 a.m.
“Wala nalang ko nigawas kay normal naman lang gud nako nga makadungog og ingon ana tungod kay kusog ang patay,” the guard said.
Scene of the Crime Operatives personnel recovered nine empty shells of unknown caliber from the crime scene.
Charls Rey Sigue, the younger brother of the victim, said his brother left their house a week earlier.
He admitted that Jerh used drugs, but said he could not confirm if his brother also sold drugs. Charls said his brother had been previously detained for allegedly shooting someone, but insisted his brother was just a victim of mistaken identity.
He also denied that his older brother involved in robbery.
Last Thursday morning, the body of Jimbo Gadiano was also found in Sitio Ilang-Ilang, Barangay Lagtang. Gadiano, whose hands were tied, was tagged as a member of drug syndicate, although his killers left no placard on the body.
Just Monday morning, the body of Reynante Otero was found hanging from a bridge in Barangay San Isidro. Otero’s head was wrapped in masking tape, both his hands and legs were tied. The unknown assailants also placed a placard on Otero’s body reading: “AYAW KO SUNDA TULISAN KO”.
Based on police investigation, Otero was involved in robbery and illegal drugs.
In a press conference, regional police director, Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, said that there are no vigilantes in Talisay City, saying he believes the killings are just the handiwork of rival drug groups trying to eliminate the competition. Carag also said this is the angle they are looking into regarding these killings.
Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas said he trusts the local police led by Carag and declared that the city is still safe, especially for those who are not into the drug business.
Stop the Killings
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said he hopes the killers will have a change of heart and the killings stop.
In an interview with Banat News, Palma said the killings must stop before people come to consider them ordinary or usual events.
He also urged the faithful to continue praying for an end to the killings, saying people should not take justice into their own hands because there are the courts of law for this purpose.
Palma also extended his condolences to the families of those slain.
Meanwhile, Commission on Human Rights chief investigator Leo Villarino challenged the police to solve the spate of recent killings, even as he reminded them that some unsolved killings go as far back as 2016.
Villarino said the police should put their intelligence fund to good use to go after those responsible. He also said they are conducting their own separate investigation into the recent cartel-style executions, not just the recent buy-bust operation where several suspects were killed.
In another incident, Shylwin Gutwal and Shera Mae Blanco, both 18, were arrested with two kilos of suspected marijuana after disembarking from a taxi just before a checkpoint along AC Cortes Avenue in Barangay Cambaro, Mandaue City, around 1 a.m. yesterday.
Police said they were manning the checkpoint when they saw the two leaving a taxi that had just been about to pass the checkpoint. They two allegedly tried to flee but were caught by the police.
Sinas said catching teenagers with illegal drugs is alarming.
“’Tingala gani mi, ing-ani na ka bata, babae, mao nang gipa-background sa namo ang mga 18 years old ug gipa-check kung 18 years old ba g’yud,” Sinas said. The two are not in the police watchlist.
Sinas said he is considering intensifying the watch for the implementation of curfew ordinance in some areas to keep young people away from illegal drugs. — with Rowena D. Capistrano, BRP (FREEMAN)