CHR: How can 4 suspects in handcuffs grab guns?
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas has stepped in to investigate the killing of four suspects in a robbery at JCentre Mall in Mandaue City last Saturday, Oct. 19.
Leo Villarino, CHR regional chief investigator, said on Tuesday the CHR central office in Manila had ordered an investigation of the suspects’ killing while in police custody.
This type of deaths are what we call ‘death under custody,’” Villarino said.
The duty of the police, he said, is to secure arrested suspects, take them to a police station for booking, file complaints against them, and bring them to court — “not have them killed.”
The four suspects were killed after they allegedly tried to grab the firearms of their police guards following their arrest in Bogo City, northern Cebu province.
They were identified as Kevin Andales, Wilfredo Enguito, Philip Taborada, and Glen Tairos.
Villarino said questions arose on how the suspects could grab their police guards’ firearms when they were in handcuffs or restraints.
But he clarified that the investigation was not to pin down the police.
“We are not saying there is foul play,” he said. “In fact, we are telling the public not to make immediate conclusions.”
The investigation, he said, hoped to find out how the suspects were able to grab guns while in custody as police procedure required them to be cuffed or restrained.
A reenactment may be needed, Villarino said.
The Central Visayas Police Regional Office said it welcomed the investigation. It was not clear, however, if the local police would cooperate with the investigation.
Villarino acknowledged that the CHR could not compel police officers to heed the subpoenas, but then a refusal to cooperate would be taken to be a waiver of the right to answer allegations.
According to him, five other suspects are alive and the CHR can interview them.
He said police refusal to cooperate in CHR investigations is not new anymore.
“Still, we will be sending out subpoenas,” he said.
The CHR, he said, would reach conclusions based on available information and without the side of police if they refused to cooperate.
At least 10 men armed with high-powered firearms robbed two jewelry stores, a pawnshop, and a money changer inside JCentre Mall in Mandaue City in a daring heist on Oct 19 before 8 p.m.
Police said the armed robbers took pieces of jewelry worth at least P130 million and P6 million in cash.
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