Kin rules out shoot-out in OFW’s death
By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---The relatives of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who was killed along with a male person in Camella Heights Subdivision in Barangay Cararayan on March 15 here, did not believe the police report that there was a shoot-out that resulted to the death of their loved one. Liz Ocampo, an OFW from Iriga City who was barely two months in the country since she arrived from the Middle East, was killed by a composite team of police and soldiers from the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, along with Joey Fajardo, the target of law enforcers in their mission to serve a warrant of arrest. In his official report of the incident, Police Chief Inspector Briccio G. Cordova Jr. stated Joey Fajardo, who he identified later as Alfredo Merilos, fired upon the law enforcers and security forces “which led into brief fire fight resulting in the death of the above-named subject person (Fajardo/Merilos) and one unidentified female person (Ocampo).” No sign of shoot-out Lualhati Balcueva, owner of the house where the killings happened, said there was no sign of shoot-out in their house like shattered windows or pockmarks on the wall of their house or indications of stray bullets. Balcueva, a close friend to Ocampo, said there is only one bullet hole on the lower right side of the door on the inside which she said looked more like a result of test fire. She said there was no sign of forced entry into the house considering that the situation implied Merilos fired from the inside of the house when the authorities tried to serve the warrant of arrest. “If there was resistance, the doors must be closed. Our house is not big and the sala is narrow with floor area of just 4 meters by 5 meters, and there was no indication that there was commotion,” Balcueva said. Ocampo and Merilos were sprawled side-by-side on the sala of Balcueva’s house when the scene of the crime operatives arrived at the house. In its own investigation, the Bicol Mail asked three neighbors of Balcueva at Cascate Street if they heard exchange of gunfire last Thursday. One neighbor said she just heard two successive gunshots while another neighbor said she did not notice because one of the neighbors celebrating a birthday party with fireworks. Woman’s scream One more neighbor said she heard a woman screaming and the three neighbors the Bicol Mail asked did not dare to come out of their houses. Karen, daughter to Ocampo, said the medico-legal of the police who performed autopsy of her mother’s remains told her that the assailant was sitting in front of Ocampo when she was fired upon. She said there were three bullet wounds on the lower abdomen of her mother, one on the right side of her torso and another one on her right shoulder. Karen said what killed her mother was the bullet that hit her torso and shoulder which damaged her lungs. The three bullets that hit the lower abdomen did not damage any organ because they were lodged on her muscles. She said her mother was finished off when she fell down and the assailant could have stood up and shot her on the shoulders. The Bicol Mail tried to get the side of the police regarding the views of Ocampo’s kin that there was no shoot-out that happened but an extra-judicial killing. SPO2 Tobias Bongon, spokesperson of the Naga City Police Office (NCPO), declined to comment and told the Bicol Mail they were instructed by the regional command of the PNP not to comment further on what happened at Camella Heights Subdivision. A police officer at the Cararayan Police Station, who declined to be named, said the law enforcers in Naga City were not involved in the operation. Local police uninformed The police officer said they were only informed about the incident after it happened and because it was within their area of jurisdiction. According to the police report after the shoot-out, the police recovered .45 caliber pistol, carbine rifle, magazines and live bullets among other items inside the house. Balcueva said her son, who arrived from Manila that day when the shooting happened, did not see any of the firearms in the house and she believes these were planted to justify the extra-judicial killings that happened. She was thankful that her son visited his friends and attended a birthday party that night so that he was out when Ocampo and Merilos were shot dead in their house. “What could had happened if my son was in the house when they killed Liz and the other guy? Until now, I cannot get over with that scary situation out of my mind,” Balcueva told the Bicol Mail. She revealed that Ocampo, who had been going back and forth to work at the Middle East for 10 years now, called her up on March 12 (Monday) to ask her permission that she will stay in her house for several days because she was busy preparing for the medical mission her sorority in the Alpha Phi Omega will conduct on April. Balcueva said she did not know she had a companion. Merilos, a friend of Ocampo way back in her college days in the 1980s, was seeking medical help for his hypertension, diabetes and mild stroke when he was killed, according to the statement of the National Democratic Front. A native of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, Merilos graduated from the Bicol University and became a mechanical engineer but chose to be part of the insurgency movement. He was a regular member of the Communist Party of the Philippines Central Committee being the Bicol delegate of the 2nd Party National Congress at the time when he was killed on March 15. Three days after he was killed, the family of Merilos retrieved his body from Cristo Funeral Homes and cremated his remains on Sunday.