5 drug suspects killed in a week in Visayas
ILOILO CITY — After a lull, resurgent anti-drug police operations resulted in the death of five suspected drug pushers in a week in Iloilo and Antique provinces.
At least 62 drug suspects have been killed in police operations in Western Visayas since July 2016 in the so-called war on drugs ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte. More than 10 others have been killed by unidentified assailants in the region.
Police have claimed that the drug suspects died in shootouts with the police but human rights and church groups have raised concerns that they were being summarily killed.
Cousins Jennifer Gobatanga and Gayrell Gobatanga, of La Paz District in Iloilo City, died Monday in Barangay San Pedro of capital town of San Jose in Antique after they allegedly opened fire at police during a buy-bust operation.
Operatives said they recovered sachets containing suspected shabu, a. 38-caliber revolver and a grenade among others.
On September 2, policemen gunned down Gabriel Poblacion during an alleged buy-bust operation at his house in Barangay Tacas in Jaro District in Iloilo City.
Police said Poblacion shot at an undercover lawman and prompted another officer to open fire.
A hand grenade, a.38-caliber pistol, sachets of suspected shabu and marked money were reportedly recovered from Poblacion.
Two other drug suspects were also separately killed last week after they also allegedly traded shots with lawmen.
Police shot dead Alex Blanca in a buy-bust operation on August 27 at his house in Barangay Boulevard in Molo District in Iloilo City. He allegedly shot at a policeman who posed as a buyer.
On August 29, policemen shot dead Richard Gregori in Barangay Ungka 2 in Pavia town in Iloilo.
He allegedly fired a.45-caliber pistol at a policeman who posed as a buyer before he was shot dead by other operatives.
Gregori was allegedly a relative of slain village chief Remia Prevendido-Gregori of Barangay Bakhaw in Mandurriao District in Iloilo City. Unidentified gunmen shot dead Remia in June inside a family-owned resort in San Joaquin town in Iloilo.
Remia, who was accused of involvement in illegal drugs, was the elder sister of Richard Prevendido, one of the alleged drug lords in Western Visayas. Policemen shot dead Prevendido and a son in a police operation in Iloilo City on September 1 last year.
Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police director, said drug suspects died because they shot it out with policemen.
He said there would be no deaths in antidrug operations if the drug suspects “peacefully surrender.”
But Reylan Vergara, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan in Panay, said the series of killing of drug suspects “show that the government policy of physically eliminating drugs suspect continue despite the international outcry.”
Vergara said there was a “pattern” in police operations with. 38-caliber pistols and grenades recovered from slain drug suspects.
“We have repeatedly said that while we want the problem of illegal drugs addressed, the killing of drug suspects is not the solution. More than two years after President Duterte came to office, illegal drugs remain a problem despite thousands of killed including innocent civilians,” he said. /cbb
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