‘No whitewash’ in probe of cops who killed innocent studentBy Aquiles Z. Zonio
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—The General Santos city council has promised there will be no whitewash in the investigation to determine the criminal and administrative liabilities of four policemen who killed an innocent student during a police operation against motorcycle thieves last Wednesday night.
Councilor Franklin “Jeng” Gacal Jr., chair of the city council’s committee on peace and order, told the Inquirer he would personally monitor the progress of investigation of Police Officer 2 Arnold Sua, PO2 Ariel Beldera, PO1 Roger Dequito and PO1 John Rey Daligdig.
Gacal confirmed that Chief Superintendent Charles Calima, Central Mindanao Police Director, had already put the four policemen under restrictive custody.
“They were also subjected to drug tests, paraffin tests and their issued firearms were submitted to PNP Crime Laboratory for ballistic examination,” Gacal said, adding he was informed during a meeting with local police officials on Friday that all four tested positive for gunpowder burns.
“One of them turned out positive for drug use,” Gacal added.
Randy Quirante, a third year BS Criminology student at the Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges (RMMC) here, was on his way home to Alabel town, Sarangani late Wednesday night together with his classmate and best friend John Rey Lapuz when they were chased by a police patrol car along the national highway.
Lapuz stopped but Quirante sped away as he was just carrying a student permit.
He was chased and shot by the policemen on suspicion that he was a motorcycle thief.
The incident took place several minutes after one Karen Monteza reported to the Lagao police station that her motorcycle had been forcibly taken from her by two unidentified men.
Quirante, who was a Sangguniang Kabataan kagawad in Barangay Spring, Alabel, sustained one gunshot wound in the back and was declared dead on arrival at a hospital here.
The incident drew public condemnation and outrage especially after Lapuz issued a statement to the media that he and the victim were talking while traversing the national highway in Barangay Baluan on their respective motorcycles.
Crime scene investigators recovered M-16 Armalite shells as well as 9-mm bullet casings.
On Friday evening, RMMC faculty and students held a candle-lighting ceremony to pray and demand justice for Quirante.
The family of the victim has also sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation in filing criminal and administrative charges against the four policemen.
Carlito Rodaje, medico legal officer of the regional NBI office here, told reporters it was possible that Quirante was killed by 9-mm bullet judging from the bullet wound. Rodaje performed an autopsy on the victim on Friday.
Gacal vowed that the city council would conduct its own probe if it is not satisfied with the police investigation. He said Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao had pledged to help the family of the victim obtain justice.
Gacal claimed that the four policemen were directed by the police regional director to undergo retraining on gun proficiency and police operational procedures.