Minor’s death in Laguna drug raid prompts probe; 10 cops held
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar on Saturday ordered 10 Biñan City policemen disarmed and placed in restrictive custody pending investigation of allegations that they summarily killed a 16-year-old boy and his adult companion.
Eleazar said the officers underwent paraffin tests and their firearms subjected to ballistic examination after the officers reported a shootout with the teen, Jhondy Maglinte, and his companion Antonio Dalit, in Biñan, Laguna, on Wednesday night.
He appealed to relatives of the two and witnesses who claimed there was no shootout to cooperate in the investigation. “We cannot find the truth and we cannot attain justice if we remain silent,” he said.
The 10 officers led by Laguna intelligence chief Police Capt. Fernando Credo were supposed to serve a warrant of arrest in Barangay Canlalay against Dalit, 40, a drug suspect who was said to be one of the 10 Most Wanted by the Laguna police. But he and Maglinte allegedly “fought back” and were killed in the exchange of fire with the police.
Recovered at the scene were two .38-caliber revolvers, which police said belonged to Maglinte and Dalit, as well 50 grams of “shabu” (crystal meth) in sachets worth P340,000, a weighing scale, drug paraphernalia and P3,500 cash.
Heard pleading for life
But the family of Maglinte denied the police report that Dalit fought back, saying he did not own a gun and did not know how to shoot.
In a television interview on Friday, Maglinte’s aunt, Nylla, said that according to witnesses the teen had seen Dalit being gunned down by the officers and he tried to run away but was caught. The witnesses saw Maglinte, already in handcuffs, pleading to the officers not to kill him as he was shot, she said.
“I just want justice to be served for my nephew. Whether he had done something wrong or not, they should not have killed him. He begged for them to spare his life but they still killed him brutally,” she said.
Eleazar directed Police Brig. Gen. Eliseo Cruz, the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region police chief, and the inspector general of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) Alfegar Triambulo to conduct a thorough investigation and to finish it as soon as possible.
The latest drug-related killings come on the heels of an announcement by Fatou Bensouda, the former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), that she had requested its Pre-Trial Chamber to open a full-blown investigation of the charges of crime against humanity involving murder against President Duterte for his war on drugs, which has killed thousands of Filipinos.
Bensouda, who stepped down on Tuesday, said there was “reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation” and that she had preserved evidence regarding the allegations against the President when she was conducting an examination of the charges filed by several groups, including the families of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJK).
Such “nanlaban” killings, or violent or armed resistance to officers, had often been cited by the police as the justification for the deaths of the suspected drug offenders, similar to what the families of Dalit and Maglinte are claiming.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President will never cooperate with the ICC for the “legally erroneous” and “politically motivated” investigation. He also said there were no EJKs in the drug war as the killings were the result of police acting in self-defense and that any violations of the law by the police were being properly investigated.
The 10 policemen are being held at the police regional headquarters, said Police Maj. Mary Anne Torres, the regional police information officer.
“If evidence so warrants, administrative and criminal charges will be filed against them accordingly,” Torres said in a statement.
Jacqueline de Guia, spokesperson for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), said that according to relatives of Maglinte he was shot while “facing down into the mud.”
“[The CHR] is deeply concerned with the news on another death of a minor—this time involving a 16-year-old boy who allegedly fought back (nanlaban) when police officers were serving a warrant for a drug charge in Biñan, Laguna,” De Guia said in a statement.
“We hope that commitments to uphold human rights translate to delivering justice to the aggrieved and improvements on government programs and policies, including reviewing the conduct of state agents in implementing them,” she said.
CHR move welcomed
“It is to the best interest of the government as well to demonstrate that lapses are firmly and urgently addressed and that reforms are also underway to allay concerns of the international community on the effectiveness of our domestic justice and accountability mechanisms,” De Guia said.
The CHR noted that the United Nations human rights office had also observed the “widespread and systematic killing of thousands of alleged drug suspects” and the culture of impunity in the Philippines.
Eleazar welcomed the CHR’s own investigation and assured it of the PNP’s full cooperation.
“Like the CHR, we also want to find out the truth in this incident. I assure that all police personnel involved will be made available to the CHR for the duration of its probe in the same manner that the policemen face the motu proprio investigation by the IAS and the fact-finding probe of [Calabarzon police],” he said.
Investigators from the provincial and regional IAS offices on Friday spoke with the families of Maglinte and Dalit.
—WITH REPORTS FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR. AND NIKKA G. VALENZUELA
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