Manila cops kill 4 Tondo ‘toughies’
‘We want to clean up Baseco Compound again,’ says execBy Jaymee T. Gamil
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In less than five minutes, four bullet-riddled bodies hit the dirt and a Manila shantytown saw the end of some of its alleged “toughies.”
Four men linked to a string of crimes were killed in what the city police described as a shootout shortly before noon on Wednesday at the Baseco Compound in Tondo district.
Two of the fatalities were identified by their relatives as Baseco residents William Olivar, 38, and Henry Ursal, 22, the latter a native of Ormoc City in Leyte.
Baseco Compound chairman Kristo Hispano said the four men were known in the community for being “siga” (toughies) who were allegedly involved in a wide range of criminal activities.
“They seemed to have been into everything that is illegal,” Hispano told the Inquirer, adding that they used to go around the area showing off their guns.
“Most of our residents here are scared to talk,” Hispano said. “But we coordinate fully with the police. We just want to clean up Baseco again.”
The shootout broke out during an operation by policemen assigned under the Manila City Hall Public Assistance Office (Chapa), who were responding to a citizen’s call made earlier in the day.
Chapa chief Senior Inspector Rolando Lorenzo said that at around 9:50 a.m., an elderly woman who sounded frightened on the phone called his office to report the presence of armed men at Block 1, Aplaya, a part of Baseco facing Manila Bay.
“She said they may be the ones responsible for a recent spate of crimes in their area: drug pushing, robberies and killings,” Lorenzo said.
Lorenzo assembled a team of about a dozen men, some of whom rushed to Baseco on motorboats, to verify the report and look for “suspicious-looking characters” in the area.
The team members arrived at Aplaya around 11 a.m., randomly checking the men on the streets for firearms, until they spotted the four suspects behind a bamboo fence near a store, “acting like they were engaged in some transaction,” he said.
When one of the policemen shouted an order for the suspects to stay where they were, the four men started to open fire, Lorenzo said.
“Their initial reaction was not to run but to open fire (as though to make sure) they would not be taken alive,” he said.
His men had to duck and return fire, Lorenzo said. “We could no longer choose where the bullets would hit them. Our priority was to save ourselves and the residents, and to pacify the situation,” he stressed.
The shootout was over in under five minutes. Recovered near the suspects’ bodies were a .38-cal. pistol with a magazine, a .38-cal. revolver, two Magnum 22 revolvers, and a hand grenade.
Lorenzo also said several sachets of a powdery substance believed to be “shabu” and a block of marijuana were also found in the suspects’ possession.
He said a policeman from the Baseco substation identified Ursal as one of the suspected killers of their colleague, Police Officer 1 Edcel Ayon, who was shot dead at a mosque on January 31.