CHR starts probe of CamSur exec slay
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has started looking into the police operation that led to the killing of a village official in Buhi town, Camarines Sur province on Sunday as the victim’s family appealed for justice.
The CHR’s move came as Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, the newly installed Bicol regional police director, assured the family of Froilan Oaferina III that the police were investigating the incident.
A police report said Oaferina, 45, a fish dealer and village councilor, was killed after he engaged policemen, who were serving a search warrant for illegal firearms, in a firefight.
But Oaferina’s relatives and workers disputed the police’s account, saying he was taken to the kitchen of the family home where he was later found dead. They said Oaferina was heard pleading for his life before gunshots rang out.
Lawyer Aileen Alangco, the CHR Bicol director, said Oaferina’s relatives asked CHR investigators to give them time to grieve and promised that they would submit testimonies from family members and other witnesses after the burial.
“We definitely have to check whether the policemen who served the search warrant have indeed followed police operation procedures, or were there breaches committed during the process,” she said.
Alangco said the agency would help in the case buildup and extend legal assistance to the family so they could file criminal and administrative cases in proper government agencies.
“Another vital issue to look into was did the police use excessive force during the operation? One case in point is the [aspect of] ‘nanlaban’ (fought back) so we have to check the regularity in the performance of their duty. Once there are breaches, this will be grounds for the filing of criminal and administrative (cases) against these police operatives,” she said.
The Philippine National Police, Estomo said, upholds and respects human rights.
He said the policemen who were part of the team that served the warrant “adhered to established protocols in the conduct of operations and only reacted defensively after Mr. Oaferina [fired] at them.”
Oaferina’s son, Nico, said the family was expecting that trumped-up stories about his father’s death would surface.
“They should have investigated first before they killed my father,” he said.
He said his father once owned a .45-caliber gun but this had been surrendered to authorities when its license expired. “[The gun is] no longer in our house. We are wondering why they accused him of illegal possession of firearms,” he said without citing the year when the gun was turned over to authorities.
In an earlier interview, Nico also said the family discovered that a phone, two tablets and more than P100,000 cash were missing from their house after the police operation.
Estomo said they were investigating this claim.
Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson, said Oaferina was arrested on Aug. 19, 2020, for unjust vexation and grave coercion.
Judge Maria Kristina Malanyaon of Buhi Municipal Trial Court issued the arrest warrant on Aug. 6, 2020.Calubaquib said Oaferina was released after posting bail.
Nico said the case was related to a dispute during his father’s term as president of an organization of drivers and operators of passenger vans in their town.
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