Caloocan cops in ‘rubout’ probe get mayor, peace body’s backing
The seven Caloocan policemen relieved of duty over the alleged rubout of an ordinance violator have found allies in the city’s peace and order council.
The 51-member council, headed by Mayor Oscar Malapitan and composed of other local government officials and representatives of civil society groups, agreed to issue a resolution on Tuesday expressing full support for the team led by Chief Insp. Narciso Cajipe Jr., commander of the Police Community Precinct 6.
Cajipe and his men were ordered relieved on Monday to face an investigation over allegations that they deliberately killed a man whom they tried to arrest Friday night for going around shirtless in the streets in violation of a local ordinance. The order came from Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office.
The PCP6 commander claimed that Mario Balagtas, 32, fired at him and his men using a .45-caliber pistol after he was cornered at his apartment in Barangay 178.
Cajipe later quoted other residents as saying that Balagtas, who moved into the neighborhood two months ago, was a suspected member of a robbery group.
A housemate of Balagtas, however, recalled that before he was shot, a person in the apartment was heard shouting: “You still want to fight?” Another tenant who lived upstairs also heard someone saying: “Stop it! I’m not going to fightback!”
The council said the police operation enjoyed “the presumption of regularity” and the shooting of Balagtas was a “judgment call” made by Cajipe.
It clarified, however, that the resolution “does not preempt nor preclude the findings of (the) investigation” into the incident.
With 10 members absent, the council gathered at City Hall at 2 p.m. and voted to issue a resolution in support of Cajipe based on his statement that he and his men acted in selfdefense.
Cajipe, who was present in the meeting, thanked the body and assured them of his cooperation in the investigation ordered by Albayalde.
He insisted that Balagtas fired first when they tried to force open his apartment door. On Monday, the precinct commander, in a bid to show proof that he was shot at, showed reporters the torn bulletproof vest which he said he wore in the operation.
The council also took into consideration the information coming from Barangay 178 chair Editha Balasbas that Balagtas’ family had opted not to file charges against Cajipe.
Addressing the council, Malapitan said the resolution was intended to “boost the morale” of the city’s police, “which has recently been hounded by controversy.”
“It’s also unfair that the history of the police force that came before them be imputed upon them. If every policeman who shoots a suspect during an encounter is relieved without presumption of regularity, what will happen to the city?”
While no one objected to the motion to pass the resolution, Fr. Janssen Ronquillo of the Diocese of Novaliches said it might be too early to do so in view of the pending probe.
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