CHR orders NAPOLCOM to file cases vs 4 Daraga police officers

By Mar S. Arguelles


The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Bicol has issued recently a resolution asking the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) in the region to file administrative and criminal cases against four members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Daraga, Albay, allegedly involved in the killing of three suspected drug pushers at a police drug sting last February 2019 in the same town.


Lawyer Arlene Alangco, CHR regional director said CHR investigators led by lawyer Laurain Ampongan-Marcaida found that police officers of the PNP Daraga Municipal Police Station (MPS) have committed human rights violations and abuses during the implementation of “Oplan Tokhang” or in “nanlaban” wherein the suspects were killed.


Facing administrative and murder complaints are: Lt. Linus Dominic Lopez; Msgt. Evan Orayan; Cpls.Christian Verdillo; and Annaliza Casulla.


The CHR investigator’s findings indicated that the police officers failed to strictly comply with the rules on engagements and operational guidelines in line with the provisions under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.


Nanlaban:


The PNP Daraga MPS was non-cooperative in providing the CHR the police official investigation reports, the ballistic examination report, receipt, and inventory of evidence from the PNP Scene of the Crime Operatives.


The cops involved in the drug buy-bust operation also failed to comply with the three-witness rule, where according to the CHR “the presence of the three witnesses must be secured not only during the inventory but importantly at the time of the warrantless arrest,” this is in accordance with Section 21 to RA9165.


The findings showed that the practice of police operatives of not bringing in to the intended place of arrest the three witnesses “calling them in” to witness the inventory and photographing of the drugs only after the buy-bust operations could be an opportunity for law enforcers to plant evidence against the suspects.


Earlier, on Feb. 22, 2019, Pedrito Marco Tibay, 35, Pete John Carlo Rima, 35 and Jeruh Salem Catubig, 37, were killed by police operatives in a drug sting in Barangay Binitayan of said town.


Tibay was considered as No. 1 on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) watch list in Daraga while Catubig was No. 8.


The report said one of the suspects pulled out his .38 handgun and fired at the police team when they sensed that it was a sting operation, forcing the operatives to retaliate.


Rima sustained multiple gunshot wounds and bore gun powder burns indicating that the victim was fired at in close range.


Reynaldo Matocinos, CHR special investigator, in an earlier press conference, said the agency’s initial investigation showed that there seems to be an “overkill” after autopsy report showed that Carlo Rima bore 14 bullet wounds in his body, while Rima’s companion suffered two bullets wound on their bodies.


Matocinos said the agency is stepping into the case as they suspect that the victims’ human rights were violated after the PNP anti-drug operatives that raided the residence seemed to have not followed the police protocols when they swooped down the victim’s house in Barangay Binitayan.


He said the report indicated that the police operatives failed to follow operational police guidelines like the submission of a full police investigation report. It also found inconsistency in the report on the recovery of items recovered during the raid.


The police team seized from the three suspects P100,000 worth of suspected shabu in 10 plastic sachets and three .38 caliber pistols.


The CHR believed that “excessive force” was used by police operatives during the drug operation that killed the three suspected drug personalities.


Carmelo Rima, a veteran broadcast and print journalist, and father of Carlo, has asked the CHR and the NBI to conduct a depth investigation on the killing of his son including two other companions.


The CHR investigator cited that the inventory report and the police blotter report of the recovered items did not match with each other.