Former QC cop in Payatas killing insists there was shootout
A former Quezon City policeman tagged in the killing of four men during an alleged “Tokhang” operation last year maintained that there was a brief shootout between him and the men, including lone survivor Efren Morillo.
Police Officer 3 Allan Formilleza took the witness stand at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 42 on Tuesday, as the first prosecution witness in the direct assault case filed by the police against Morillo for allegedly engaging them in a shootout in August 2016.
During crossexamination, Formilleza said the firefight in Area B, Group 9 in Payatas lasted for only about 2 minutes.
But this alleged exchange of fire led to four dead men, with only Morillo surviving to tell his version of the event, where cops — led by Formilleza — summarily executed Marcelo Daa, Raffy Gabo, Anthony Comendo and Jessie Cule.
Morillo’s testimony had become the basis for landmark cases filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against policemen operating under the government’s antidrug campaign, as well as a petition for a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court.
Aside from Formilleza, also accused in the murders were Senior Insp. Emil Garcia, Police Officers 1 James Aggarao and Melchor Navisaga. Except for Navisaga, all three cops were present during the hearing and in full uniform.
During the crossexamination, Formilleza said that in the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2016, he was “ambling” in the area with Aggarao and Navisaga, when a woman allegedly pointed them to a certain group that was involved in drug peddling and robbery.
He said when they approached the place, which was Daa’s house, two men drew their firearms and fired at the police.
But Formilleza said he could not say whether his fellow policemen also fired at the two. “I was focused on the suspects. I had no idea if my other team members were also firing,” he told the court.
He also said Morillo later escaped through the river, but the exchange of fire killed four men, including three who came from the shanty.
However, lawyer Gil Anthony Aquino, Morillo’s legal counsel from the Center for International Law, said they remained confident the case against his client would be dismissed because of the “glaring inconsistencies” in the policemen’s statements.
For instance, he pointed out that the policemen said in their counteraffidavit submitted to the Ombudsman that they were in the area for a “discreet validation.” However, their joint affidavit of arrest stated that they were doing a “house-to-house operation.”
“You will also see that the victims were neutralized altogether in one spot. So how can you have a gunfight with all three deceased in one spot?” he told the Inquirer. “In the next hearings, we will uncover the lies that the policemen are saying.”
In an interview with the Inquirer, however, Formilleza stressed that Morillo and the four other men were drug suspects.
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