‘Manila cops tilted CCTVs where they shot my pa’
Rolando Campo, 60, was doing the laundry when a team from the Manila Police District’s Moriones station arrested him for “illegal gambling” early Wednesday afternoon.
Minutes later, Campo and two other residents identified as Sherwin Bitas, 34, and a man known at press time only as “Kalbo”, were found dead a few blocks away from their houses on Sta. Barbara Street, Tondo.
In their report, MPD-Moriones police said the three men were drug suspects who were killed in a buy-bust operation led by Chief Insp. Michael Garcia. The operation was conducted by the MPD minutes before President Duterte, whose trust and satisfaction ratings in recent opinion polls have dropped, took the Philippine National Police off the lead in his bloody antidrug campaign and gave that role to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
But according to Campo’s daughter Ladylyn, there were closed-circuit television (CCTVs) cameras in the area where her father and the others were killed, but that the officers tinkered with them during the operation.
“The police tilted the camera so it won’t show what they did,” she told Inquirer on Thursday.
The police report said the suspects fought back—nanlaban—and that the officers “strategically positioned themselves while one of them acted as the poseur buyer with the informant and made a drug deal with the suspects.”
The report said Campo dealt with a “poseur buyer” during the operation but he later “sensed the presence of the police operative.”
Then, the police report added, Campo “ordered his two cohorts to fire shots toward the operatives.
Fortunately, the poseur buyer evades the first burst of shot and managed to run into the refuge of his colleagues. Thereafter, exchange of gunfire ensued between them wherein suspects were fatally wounded.”
But Ladylyn said footage from the CCTVs would not show any indication of a drug transaction taking place.
The Inquirer sent text messages to MPD director Chief Supt. Joel Coronel for comment but he has yet to reply as of this writing.
Ladylyn said she was about to take a nap when she saw the policemen enter their house and grab her father near the stairs. The officers told her they were there for an operation against illegal gambling.
“They were a mix; some in uniform, others in civilian clothes. They said they were chasing street gamblers who supposedly ran to our house to hide,” she said.
“I asked them to let (my father) go because he did not do anything wrong; he was just doing the laundry. But they told me they would just talk to him,” she said.
Aware of how police operations could end up these days, Ladylyn refused to leave her father’s side.
She only let go when Campo told her: “Don’t worry about me. Save yourself.”
Ladylyn then ran toward her cousin’s house. She later heard the same officers shouting: “Maraming adik dito! (There are many drug addicts here!)”
This made her more nervous because her father used to be a “shabu” user. But she maintained that he already kicked the habit and surrendered to the barangay last year because of the “Oplan Tokhang” campaign.
Minutes later, neighbors approached her to say her father, along with Bitas and Kalbo, was dead.
“Their bodies were loaded on a pedicab like slaughtered pigs, then brought to Gat Andres (Bonifacio Hospital),” she said. “Why? Why is it that easy now to kill people like pigs?”
“At Gat Andres my father’s eyes were still open. I saw two bullet holes in the chest and stomach.”
As to the MPD’s claim that her father was “nanlaban,” she said: “First, where would my father get the gun? Second, there was no buy-bust. As I said, they were looking for street gamblers and that they just grabbed him as he was doing the laundry. Third, how could he fight back against a group carrying Armalite rifles?”
“It doesn’t make sense,” she stressed.
Ladylyn was really against her father’s decision to surrender to the barangay in August last year, precisely “because those who surrender (under Tokhang) always end up dead.”
But her father believed it would help him change for good, she said.
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