‘Buy-bust’ killing: Suspect asleep when cops barged in, says sis
Benjamin Villanueva, a suspected drug pusher, was asleep when policemen in civilian clothes and wearing black masks stormed into his housing unit in Tondo, Manila, in the wee hours of Sunday.
Eight shots — two to the heart — killed him, according to his sister Vangie, who lived in the same tenement.
The next day, a Manila Police District (MPD) report released to the family said Villanueva was killed in “a buy-bust operation,” suggesting that he fought back at undercover agents who posed as drug buyers.
It was a “police encounter buy-bust involving elements of Raxabago police station led by Chief Insp. Manny Israel,” the report read.
In an interview of Tuesday, Vangie asked in disbelief: “How could a man fight back while asleep?”
Vangie admitted that her brother used to peddle illegal drugs but that he already stopped after surrendering to authorities in 2016 under the “Oplan Tokhang” campaign.
In 2017, Villanueva was arrested after being tagged as a suspect in the killing of a police asset, and was released from jail last month, she said.
According to Vangie, the officers who came for Villanueva were wearing masks when they barged into his unit on the fifth floor of Building 17 at the Katuparan housing project in Barangay 101, Vitas, Tondo.
“They woke him up and ordered all our neighbors to stay inside their units, warning them not to take a peek,” Vangie said. “They turned off the lights in the building.”
The officers then started shouting, “Nanlalaban! nanlalaban! (he’s fighting back),” she recalled.
After a few gunshots, the operation was over.
Another resident who was brave enough to look saw Villanueva’s body being “carried like a pig” and shoved into a patrol vehicle waiting outside the building.
“How was that possible (that my brother fought back)?” Vangie said. “He was sleeping when they arrived. They woke him up. How could my brother do that when he was already in their custody?”
After killing Villanueva, his sibling said, the policemen also seized his laptop and cell phone — and took wife Rowena along with them.
“We don’t know why they took Rowena; she was also asleep when they arrived,” Vangie said.
After searching for Rowena at several precincts for two days, the suspect’s family learned she was being detained at Raxabago station for drug pushing, an allegation Vangie found “impossible (because) she’s only a house wife.”
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