Fear remains in Ompad household days after killing of 15-year-old John Frances
MANILA, Philippines — Fear, on top of sadness and mourning, reigns in the Ompad household.
Slain 15-year-old John Frances Ompad’s next-of-kin disclosed on Monday that they were still fearing for their safety following the shooting of the teen.
John Frances was allegedly fatally shot by Police Cpl. Arnulfo Sabillo, 37, whose actual target was the victim’s 19-year-old brother named John Ace Ompad.
The incident took place in Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal on Aug. 20.
“There is [fear], especially because the police are involved. The cases are just homicide and attempted homicide and are bailable,” Sheena Dianne Ompad, the 23-year-old sister of John Frances, said in Filipino in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
She had been asked about how the family felt about the cases filed against Sabillo and his civilian colleague, Jeffrey Baguio, 27.
Sheena said they would want tougher penalties imposed on Sabillo and Baguio considering the impact of their actions.
She specifically stressed that the Ompad family would want murder raps filed against them — and only then could they feel at ease.
“[We recommended it] to the police who are handling the case because they are the ones who filed the [homicide and attempted homicide charges in the prosecutor’s office], but they did not [contact] us,” Sheena said.
The death of John Frances triggered waves of emotions within the family. According to Sheena, John Ace once blamed himself for the death of John Frances.
“But we told him it wasn’t really his fault. No one is really to blame for what happened,” Sheena said.
The killing of John Frances happened after John Ace was flagged down by Sabillo, who was accompanied by Baguio, for driving a “suspicious-looking” motorcycle.
John Ace purportedly refused to present documents to prove that he owned the motorcycle. Reports also indicated that John Ace allegedly drove away from Sabillo, leading to a chase.
But John Ace claimed that as he was approaching his house, he saw Baguio “pull something out” from his pocket, prompting the 19-year-old to throw his helmet at the suspects.
Sabillo allegedly fell but stood up and immediately shot at John Ace. But Sabillo missed, instead hitting John Francis, who had was just coming out of the house.
“It’s sad because, of course, one of our family members died, [but] we just have to be strong so we can [deal with] my brother’s case,” Sheena said.
What went wrong
Sheena also said there were irregularities surrounding his brother’s case.
For one, Sabillo fired four gunshots when he and Baguio were chasing John Ace.
“There were four shots. They could have knocked here at home and told my parents that my brother had run away from them. But they did not do that. They fired four times. Those were not warning shots. A warning shot would only be a single shot and they would have aimed it upwards,” Sheen said.
According to Sheena, no roadblocks were also placed to prove that an Oplan Sita was really ongoing at that time.
Meanwhile, the Rizal Police Provincial Office earlier bared that Sabillo was not wearing his uniform during the Oplan Sita operation. The authorities have also not verified allegations that Sabillo was drunk at the time of John Frances’ killing.
Sheena said both suspects ran away after the shooting.
Sabillo and Baguio were arrested on Aug. 21. Currently, they are still in the custody of the Rodriguez Rizal Police Station.
What could’ve been
Before his death, John Frances told his family that he wanted to be a police officer.
Sheena said the teen was scheduled to shop for school supplies last Aug. 21. He was supposed to be an incoming Grade 9 student.
“He always causes headaches for his teachers. So he said he would make up for his shortcomings in Grades 9 and 10. He told us that he would really improve his performance because he would really want to be a police officer. He dreamed of [becoming] a police officer. So he was going to fix and improve his studies,” Sheena said.
But then died at the hands of a police officer.
“That was painful for us because that was his dream. His dream was to become a police officer. But a police officer ended up killing him,” Sheen said.
John Frances is the second teenager to die at the hands of police officers in August 2023 alone.
The 15-year-old’s death happened after the controversial killing of Jemboy Baltazar — another teen who was shot by police officers in an alleged case of mistaken identity in Navotas.
Netizens say the deaths of Ompad and Baltazar should prompt changes in the hiring system of the Philippine National Police, saying that police officers should undergo tougher neuropsychiatric examinations before being accepted into the force.