Bishop to witness: Tell us what you saw
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David on Sunday encouraged a man who reportedly witnessed a police official kill a shirtless man in cold blood to approach the church.
“I advise the witness to visit his parish priest so that his testimony can be properly documented,” David said in a text message to Inquirer.
On Friday night, Caloocan policemen accosted Mario Balagtas, 32, a resident of Barangay 178, for going out in public without a shirt.
Chief Insp. Narciso Cajipe Jr., Caloocan Police Community Precinct 6 commander, claimed that Balagtas had fired upon him and his men, prompting them to respond in kind.
Witnesses, however, said that the victim had begged for his life before he was shot several times in the chest.
Witness seems credible
For David, the witness who talked to TV reporters “did not at all seem to me like he was inventing what he said.”
David, who has been critical of the administration’s bloody war on drugs, also encouraged high-ranking police officials to look into the matter.
“If the police truly care at all about defending the integrity of the Philippine National Police as an institution, their higher officers should at least show an effort to investigate what really happened,” he said.
According to Cajipe, as they were about to accost three men — Balagtas, another shirtless man and a bystander — on Petchayan Street, two of them ran away while Balagtas rushed to the apartment he was renting nearby and locked himself in.
Balagtas allegedly shot at the police once through the door and hit in the chest Cajipe, who was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Cajipe said Balagtas fired at him again after he and his team forced their way into the house, prompting him to shoot and kill the victim.
Other witnesses’ accounts
Armando Bersuela, a housemate of Balagtas, recalled hearing a gunshot at that time and then someone yelling in Filipino, “You still want to fight?”
Mhai Julka, a nurse who occupied a room upstairs, said, “I heard two more gunshots while someone was saying, ‘Stop it, I’m not going to fight back.’ He was crying.”
“Then someone again said: ‘Ah, you still want to fight?’ Then I heard a few more gunshots — and then there was silence,” Julka added.
Cajipe, meanwhile, belied insinuations of a rubout. “If that is what they say, then they should file an affidavit.
There were reports Balagtas, who moved into the apartment two months ago, was a criminal gang member.
Men on motorbikes often dropped by his unit, said Julka’s live-in partner, John Martin Azcueta.
“But he was OK and besides, the issue here is not whether he was a criminal. The issue is if he really resisted arrest,” Azcueta added.
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